Almost 31 percent of children who were shown to be at risk for autism when they were 12 months old were confirmed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by the time they were 3 years old, says a new study.

Researchers could predict the disorder in children as young as a year old with the help of a 63 item questionnaire called the First Year Inventory (FYI) filled out by their parents.

Some 85 percent of children who were found to be at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders based on this questionnaire showed  some form of  developmental disorders by age 3, according to the study.

Recently, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) had reported that fewer than one out of every child who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are diagnosed before age 2.

"These results indicate that an overwhelming majority of children who screen positive on the FYI indeed experience some delay in development by age three that may warrant early intervention," said Grace Baranek, PhD, autism researcher with the Program for Early Autism, Research, Leadership and Service (PEARLS) in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the UNC School of Medicine. Baranek is a senior author of the study.

According to experts earlier detection of ASD makes treatment easier and aids in developmental programs. It also reduces need for extra medication or health services in later life.

"Identification of children at risk for ASD at 12 months could provide a substantial number of children and their families with access to intervention services months or years before they would otherwise receive a traditional diagnosis," said Lauren Turner-Brown, PhD, also a researcher with PEARLS and the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities and lead author of the study, according to a news release.

In the study, some 700 parents filled out a questionnaire when their child was 12 months old. Additional screening questionnaire were given to parents during the next three years.

"These findings are encouraging and suggest promise in the approach of using parent report of infant behaviors as a tool for identifying 12-month-olds who are at risk for an eventual diagnosis of ASD," Turner-Brown said in a news release.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASD’s handle information in their brain differently than other people.

ASD’s are ‘spectrum disorders’. The intensity of the disability varies from person to person. In some cases the disability is so mild that it can go undetected for many years.

 In the US, 1 in 88 children and 1 in every 54 boys are born with autism - CDC says.