Researchers have found out that scanning the brains of babies whose siblings have autism, will help to predict the high risk of autism in them. Due to these findings the possibilities of diagnosing autism spectrum before the child develps symptoms has increases. The findings were published in Nature.
Usually diagnosis of autism at early stage is very difficult as the symptoms are not prominent. Although the children with a ASD do have difficulty in making eye contact, after the age of 2. It is believed that the brain changes underlying ASD begin much earlier,possibly even in the womb.
It occurs in roughly 1 in 100 children in the general population, but infants who have older sibling with autism is said to have about a 1 in 5 chance of developing ASD.
Findings of the research
15 of high-risk infants were diagnosed with autism at 24 months. Scans revealed that the volume of these infants’ brains grew faster between 12 and 24 months, when compared with children who were not diagnosed with ASD, and that this accelerated growth occurred at the same time that behavioral signs of autism appeared.
They also found out that the brain changes between 6 and 12 months, before appearance of the symptoms . The cortical grew faster in infants who were later diagnosed with autism, compared with those who did not receive a diagnosis. A lot more researches must be done to get the desired result .
Even if the findings are strong, clinical trials may prove limited. Cynthia Schumann, an expert on autism says “the findings apply only to high-risk infants, and not to the general population. A large follow-up study would be needed to test whether autism can be predicted in the general population” .
Furthur research depends having a ‘growth-chart for the brain’ which is broadly applicable across the general population a huge challenge, he notes.
There are no evidences that the risk of developing autism mayreduced in infants, says Having a reliable tool for early diagnosis could help researchers to test interventions, because it would help them to determine whether a treatment is working or not.