Brain activity patterns in the first year of life may predict autism in infants at high risk for the condition, a new study suggests.
Specifically, patterns in electroencephalography (EEG) signals at ages 3, 6, 9 and 12 months seem to distinguish autistic children.
“Our predictive models worked best when confined to the first year of life, which suggests that this period of time may represent a critical period of brain development,” says lead investigator Charles Nelson, research director in the division of developmental medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.
EEG signals have previously been found to distinguish infants with increased odds of having autism. A study published in August , for example, reported potential EEG markers of autism in infants with tuberous sclerosis, a related condition.
By identifying infants who are relatively likely to be diagnosed with autism, the work may give them access to early intervention.
“We know that differences are emerging early; now we want to see if we can leverage those differences” to create a predictive tool, says Laurel Gabard-Durnam, a postdoctoral researcher in Nelson’s lab.
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