More accurate autism tests developed

2010-12-02 19:35

Chicago - US researchers are closing in on an accurate test for autism, a finding that could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

The test, which uses conventional magnetic resonance imaging or MRI machines, detected 94% of individuals with a high-functioning form of autism, they reported on Thursday.

"These results are the best yet in the search for a biological basis in terms of being able to distinguish those with and without the disease," said Nicholas Lange of Harvard Medical School, who directs the Neurostatistics Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

He said the findings, published in the journal Autism Research, were very preliminary, but if confirmed in several more and larger studies, they might replace current subjective tests now used to diagnose the disorder.

And, he said, they might also lead to better management and treatment of people with autism, a complex and mysterious brain disorder usually first diagnosed in early childhood.

Brain circuitry

Autism is characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and understanding other people's emotions and behaviour.

For the study, researchers at McLean and a team led by Dr Janet Lainhart the University of Utah used an MRI that was tuned to pick up microscopic features of the brain's wiring - a technique known as diffusion tensor imaging.

"You don't need any fancy equipment. This is performed around the world," Lange said in a telephone interview.

The team did scans of this type on the brains of 30 people with autism and 30 people without. They found that the brain circuitry is significantly different in those with autism compared to people with normal brain function, specifically in areas of the brain that are engaged in language and social and emotional functioning.

By measuring six aspects of the brain's circuitry, the test was able to correctly pick out people who had been diagnosed with autism with 94% accuracy.

A repeat study using two different sets of subjects showed the same high level of performance.

Lange said the findings should help make the process of diagnosing autism more scientific because it would rely on a test rather than a subjective assessment.

More boys affected

And it may also offer an early diagnosis, which could help affected children get earlier intervention, when it is most likely to do some good.

"The basis of autism in the brain is very deep. There may be very little that one can actually change about the disorder for an individual with a severe case," Lange said.

"However, it has been shown that in the early stages of development, individuals have been aided by intense one-on-one caring to help them with language, social function with their peers and also with emotional problems," he said.

Autism disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the US and affect four times as many boys as girls.

Read more on:    health  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zille: Only DA can challenge ANC in F State

The DA is the only party that can challenge the ANC in the Free State, opposition party leader Helen Zille says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Monday Sir Lowry's Pass - 13:45 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    HEAVY TRAFFIC over Sir Lowrys Pass - expect delays
  • Monday Somerset West - 13:45 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    EXPECT DELAYS due to high volumes
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.