Infant MRIs May Predict Autism

Posted: Mar 7 2017, 8:37am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Infant MRIs May Predict Autism
Right: MRI of a baby at 6 months who was diagnosed with autism at 2 years. The dark space between the brain folds and skull indicate increased amounts of cerebrospinal fluid. Left: MRI of a baby who was not diagnosed with autism at age 2. Note the decreased amount of CSF. CREDIT: Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (UNC-Chapel Hill)
  • Infant MRIs show autism linked to increased cerebrospinal fluid
 

Researchers have found that MRI scans in infants may show the by-ways of autism.

A study showed that many infants diagnosed with autism at the age of two had a larger supply of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at the crucial moments of six and 12 months of age.

In fact, the more CSF at six months, the more chances of contracting autism in the infant. CSF may be easily monitored via MRI scans. It is a very fine-tuned biomarker of autism that can tell beforehand whether the infant is prone to the condition or not. 

This research also lends access to the possibility of therapy for people with autism. The finding was published in a journal. The fault ultimately lies in the flow of CSF. CSF is very crucial for the brain’s health.

In the autistic children, the CSF was not flowing with any regularity. While pinpointing this as the sole factor responsible for autism is unfair, it nevertheless plays a very important role in the whole autism equation.

Until about 10 years ago, the field of medicine took CSF to be merely a fluid. It flowed between the brain and skull and it was thought to be basically protective in its nature. 

Yet now we know better. CSF is vital for the well-being of the brain and its evolution and growth in the matter of a lifetime. It also serves as a filter to separate the toxins which are a by-product of the brain’s metabolism.

The neurons in the brain communicate with each other on a regular basis. Thus certain by-products such as proteins which cause inflammation are secreted by the brain. The CSF takes care of these and thus it is a waste disposal system of sorts.   

Fresh CSF is replenished about four times a day in both children and adults. Those babies who went on to become autistic had greater amounts of CSF in their brains.

Yet some warned that this study ought to be taken with a grain of salt since it was very limited in its scope. Only a few subjects were brought under observation.

Thus it was repeated on a more extensive basis. What the new study showed was that though normally autism is diagnosed when the child is 2 or 3 years of age, yet via MRI scans, this diagnosis may be made even earlier. The CSF measurements led to a 70% accuracy rate for predicting autism.

The findings of this study got published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

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