Will it be possible to detect autism soon in babies? Researchers have found that changes in the brains of children under one year of age can be predicted. Their study was published Wednesday, February 15 in the journal Nature .
Generally, autism is detected at around 2 years in a child. “We are fighting to predict autism earlier and earlier,” explains our colleagues at the American Huffington Post Joseph Piven, author of the study. “We had reached a sort of limit around 2 years of age. Before that age, behavioral markers did not seem to detect children who were going to be autistic.”
Rapid development of the cortex and the brain
For this study, the researchers examined magnetic resonance (MRI) 106 babies running more risk of having autism because their older brother or sister is. Children with one of the autistic seniors are one to five times more likely to be autistic. A control group of 40 low-risk babies also participated in the study.
MRI results showed that the cerebral cortex of babies most likely to have autism developed faster than the others. The researchers then found that the brain volume of children at risk increased very rapidly between one and two years.
Diagnose before consolidation of symptoms
With this information, the authors of the study created a computer-based algorithm whereby they hope to be able to predict the development of autism.
In the meantime, they have already correctly identified 80 babies who were actually diagnosed with autism at 24 months.
“Detecting autism before it really appears, before the consolidation of symptoms and brain disorders and at a time when it is the most malleable, is what gives us the greatest chance of having a Impact by intervening early, “says Joseph Piven. Autism-related disorders can be mitigated when a child is treated early.