Examining toddlers’ brain waves may offer early diagnosis of autism

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Image: Raising Children

Certain patterns of electrical activity in the brain may signal autism in children with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a related genetic condition. Toddlers who have both TSC and autism have brain waves that are unusually out of sync across hemispheres, a new study suggests.

The study offers a potential marker for autism well before traditional diagnostic tests would pick up the condition.

TSC is often diagnosed before birth or in early infancy. Most children with TSC also have epilepsy, and roughly half have autism. Predicting which babies will be diagnosed with autism is important for getting therapy to those most likely to need it.

Related article:  Seeking origins of schizophrenia, autism by putting 'stress' on mini-placenta, mini-brains

Unlike children with TSC alone, those with both TSC and autism show social-communication difficulties in their first year of life. They also show a decline in nonverbal intelligence between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Researchers have been looking for objective measures of some of these early signs of autism.

[Researcher Shafali] Jeste and her colleagues are trying to identify EEG biomarkers of autism in children younger than 1 year. “The earlier we can identify those markers, the earlier we can start monitoring them more closely, and even recommending intervention,” she says.

Read full, original post: Slow, disorderly brain waves may flag autism in toddlers

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