Infant Brain Scans Can Detect Autism Long Before Symptoms Appear

Posted: Feb 16 2017, 7:12am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Infant Brain Scans can Detect Autism Long Before Symptoms Appear
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  • Brain Scans can Detect Babies at High Risk of Autism

The risk of autism in children has been found via brain transformations in the infantile stage.

Now it may be a cinch to predict with remarkable accuracy whether a kid will contract autism or not. It is a surplus of brain matter that is a good predictor of autism.

This can be known with ease through MRI scans of infant brains. By the time the infant reaches the age of 2 years, the chances of contracting autism may be known with accuracy. The study concerning this was published in a journal.

Some more fine tuning needs to be done before this method could be made foolproof. The main symptoms of autism are doing the same thing over and over again and a communication gap that is so wide as to get in the way of normal conversation.

One in 68 kids have autism spectrum disorder. This information comes courtesy of the CDC. For those kids who have an autistic brother or sister, the risks may increase by one in five which is a lot. For normal kids the risk is one in 100.

Two groups of kids were studied. One consisted of 106 infants who were at a high risk of contracting autism. The other one consisted of 42 infants who showed no such symptoms and didn’t have a family history of the disease either.

MRI technology was used to measure the brain’s evolution from 6 months to 24 months. Several factors and indicators were noted down with reference to brain statistics. An overgrowth in the brain tissue occurred among the autistic infants.

Dr Heather Hazlett, one of the researchers at the University of North Carolina, told the BBC News, "Very early in the first year of life we see surface brain area differences, that precede the symptoms that people traditionally associate with autism. So it gives us a good target for when the brain differences might be happening for children at high risk of autism."

About 80% of the high risk infants met the criteria of contracting autism later on when they became full-fledged adults. The brain volume seemed to expand by the time they were 2 years old.

The main indicator was a thick cerebral cortex. While it is about the size of an open pie, this cerebral cortex is folded and squashed into the front region of the brain.

The many gyrations and intricate tunnels of the brain are on account of this region. The cortical expansion underwent a substantial increase among the infants who had autism.

Therefore interventionist measures have to begin early onwards to facilitate the infants towards recovery from autism. This finding carries important connotations for scientists.

It shows that autism, which was once thought to be incurable, does have a solution provided that the treatment begins from the start.

The findings of this study got published in the journal Nature.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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