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Autism Brain Scan Could Detect Disorder in Infancy

Image: Autism Brain Scan Could Detect Disorder in Infancy

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By    |   Friday, 09 Jun 2017 11:07 AM

New autism brain scans may help doctors accurately predict which infants will be diagnosed with autism by age 2, with patterns of brain activity possibly determined in babies as young as 6 months, a study revealed.

American and Canadian researchers found that the scans can predict autism with 97 percent accuracy, according to study published in Science Translational Medicine.

Evidence of autism can emerge at about age 2, but most children are diagnosed with the disorder at age 4, Scientific American reported. Autism causes repetitive behaviors, social problems and other difficulties.

If doctors know which infants will develop autism, medical professionals could start on behavioral therapy for children early on when their brains are most adaptable.

"The defining behavioral characteristics of autism generally unfold during the second year of life, typically showing consolidation of the full behavioral syndrome by about 24 months of age or later," the researchers wrote, according to NBC News.

Early diagnosis would provide a tremendous relief for parents of autistic children.

"I think that most parents would find that really helpful and would want to know that," said Joseph Piven, a lead researcher of the study and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Brain scans were used on 59 children who had older siblings with autism in the study. These children have an increased risk of developing autism. A scanner was used as they slept.

Parents filled out questionnaires on repetitive behaviors when the children reached age 2. Researchers examined motor skills, language abilities, and communication behaviors of the children, diagnosing 11 of the 59 with autism.

Feeding brain activity measures and behavioral test scores into a computerized algorithm, doctors discovered the computer found nine of the 11 children had autism while finding no signs in the children who were not affected by the condition.

Although the brain scan used in the study was expensive, about several thousand dollars, the researchers hope more noninvasive and affordable scans will be developed to be used widely in clinics.

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New autism brain scans may help doctors accurately predict which infants will be diagnosed with autism by age 2, with patterns of brain activity possibly determined in babies as young as 6 months, a study revealed.
autism, brain, scan, infants
338
2017-07-09
Friday, 09 Jun 2017 11:07 AM
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