Minor physical anomalies in children with autism spectrum disorders

Kathleen Angkustsiri, Paula Krakowiak, Billur Moghaddam, Terrance Wardinsky, Jerald Gardner, Nareg Kalamkarian, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Robin L Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: There is clinical heterogeneity among the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The presence of dysmorphology (minor physical anomalies; MPAs) is one possible tool for defining a clinically relevant subset in ASD. This study employs an adaptation of Miles and Hillman's (2000) classifications by using photographs to identify a subgroup with significant dysmorphology among children with ASD, typical development (TYP), and developmental delay (DD). Method: Children with ASD, DD, and TYP between 2 and 5 years old were part of the CHARGE Study. Pediatric specialists blinded to diagnostic group classified photographs based on the number of MPAs present: 'dysmorphic' if >3 and 'nondysmorphic' if <3 MPAs. Results: Photographs for 324 children were included. Significantly more children with ASD were classified as dysmorphic compared to TYP children (p =.007). In children with ASD, seizures were more prevalent in those rated dysmorphic (p =.005). Frequencies were similar between ASD versus DD (p =.19) after removing those with known syndromes. Conclusion: Photographic assessment can be used to detect generalized dysmorphology in children who are often difficult to examine. This has clinical relevance, as children with multiple MPAs can be identified through the use of photographs and prioritized for investigation of brain abnormalities and underlying genetic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)746-760
Number of pages15
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • autism
  • dysmorphology
  • minor physical anomalies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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