Children with autism tend to be diagnosed around age 4, after a child begins to socialize and speak. But the earlier a child is diagnosed, the better…Now, new research shows such a diagnosis could be predicted as early as one year old — based on scans of infants’ brains.
A team of researchers…enrolled 106 infants in the study, some of whose siblings had been diagnosed with autism. They performed MRI scans when the children were six months, one year, and two years old. They then noted which children had been diagnosed with autism….
The key differences were in how a child’s brain grew in the first year of life. Enlarged brain volume has previously been observed in children with autism.
If the algorithm predicted that the child would be diagnosed with autism, it was correct just over 80 percent of the time.
…[The researchers] agree that “it would not be practical” to routinely scan infants with such a technology if the screening tool moves to the clinic. But children in groups with higher rates of autism — like those who have affected siblings or who carry genes linked to autism — might benefit the most from it.
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