Brain scans may hold key to identifying autism early – study

Brain scans may hold key to identifying autism early – study

Scientists believe that there may be a correlation between brain growth visible on brain scans and the eventual development of autism spectrum disorder. These MRIs could potentially identify high-risk autism before the age of two.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects approximately 3.5 million Americans and is most likely to be identified by the age of four. However, a study published Wednesday in Nature, claims to have possibly discovered a formula to identify children with a high-risk for autism before they start to seriously lag in their social development.

ASD is a blanket term for a wide range of social impairments, from slightly to seriously disabling. As a result, children with autism often fall behind in developmental milestones related to social, communication and language skills.

#Autism symptoms show improvement from donor viruses in fecal transplants https://t.co/NI1nYilXwxpic.twitter.com/Vr9M7MB4XZ

— RT America (@RT_America) January 25, 2017

The study claims that the brain scans revealed “hyperexpansions” of the brain surface in the first 12 months were a common feature in babies who would go on to develop ASD. The expansion was often followed by an increase in brain volume overgrowth that, according to the study, “was linked to the emergence and severity of autistic social deficits.”

Researchers developed this conclusion by comparing developments of 106 infants who were at a high risk of autism due to family histories with 42 low-risk infants. Of the high-risk infants, 15 presented with brain overgrowth went on to develop autism by their 24th month.

Scientists then took the information from the scans and provided them to a machine learning algorithm and used that to predict autism in 24-month-old infants. Of those, 81 percent predicted to develop autism did so, and in about 3 percent, autism was predicted but did not develop.

The benefits of identifying autism before serious developments occur are numerous. Stephen Dager, a co-author at the University of Washington’s Center on Human Development and Disability, told the Guardian. “Early intervention, before age two, can change the clinical course of those children whose brain development has gone awry and help them acquire skills that they would otherwise struggle to achieve.”

This study could be the first step toward developing earlier intervention in ASD technology for pediatricians to apply on a larger scale.

Annette Estes, a co-author on the study and director of the University of Washington in Seattle, told the Guardian that while no tool yet exists to identify autism earlier, “researchers could start developing interventions to prevent these children from falling behind in social and communication skills.”

10yo girl with autism found locked in cage at Tennessee home https://t.co/P2XGnkZ5Zkpic.twitter.com/EXs48hR0Z7

— RT America (@RT_America) February 8, 2017



Add Comment

all comments

  Other news

more
Ariana Grande says she feels 'broken' after Manchester concert attack

Ariana Grande says she feels 'broken' after Manchester concert attack..

23-May, 12:24

Ariana Grande has expressed her sorrow at the deaths of 22 people in an...

U.S. Madoff fund has paid zero to fraud victims so far

U.S. Madoff fund has paid zero to fraud victims so far..

23-May, 12:56

File photo taken in 2014 shows Richard Breeden, a former chairman of the...

Manchester bombing: 'Imagine having to tell a child that someone has just blown themselves up'

Manchester bombing: 'Imagine having to tell a child that someone has just blown themselves up'..

23-May, 14:32

Rebecca Reeton with daughter Lillian at the Ariana Grande concert in...

Daniel Craig pays moving tribute to longest serving James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore after he dies aged 89: 'Nobody does it better'

Daniel Craig pays moving tribute to longest serving James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore after he..

24-May, 04:40

Following the star's sad passing, actor Daniel Craig was quick to pay...

Official: French police thwart attack days before election

Official: French police thwart attack days before election..

18-Apr, 13:24

French police thwarted an imminent "terror attack" and arrested two...

Who could Fox News tap if Bill O'Reilly doesn't return?

Who could Fox News tap if Bill O'Reilly doesn't return?..

13-Apr, 18:16

Fox News Channel expects Bill O'Reilly back from his vacation on April...

UN court orders Pakistan not to execute Indian man sentenced to death for espionage, terrorism

UN court orders Pakistan not to execute Indian man sentenced to death for espionage, terrorism..

18-May, 06:40

UN court orders Pakistan not to execute Indian man sentenced to death for...

Poker-playing AI beats pros using 'intuition,' study finds

Poker-playing AI beats pros using 'intuition,' study finds..

02-Mar, 16:22

Computer researchers are betting they can take on the house after...