Signs of autism in baby brains

2012-01-27 10:36

kalahari.com

London - Children who develop autism already show signs of different brain responses in their first year of life, scientists said on Thursday in a study that may in the future help doctors diagnose the disorder earlier.

British researchers studied 104 babies at 6 to 10 months and then again at 3-years-old, and found that those who went on to develop autism had unusual patterns of brain activity in response to eye contact with another person.

The findings suggest direct brain measures might help predict the future risk of autism in babies as young as 6 months old, said Mark Johnson of Birkbeck at the University of London, who led the study.

Autism, which affects around 1% of people worldwide, includes a spectrum of disorders ranging from mental retardation and a profound inability to communicate to relatively milder symptoms such as seen in people with Asperger's syndrome.

Among core features of condition are poor communication skills and difficulties with social engagement, and doctors are keen to find ways to diagnose the condition earlier so that they can intervene to help autistic children develop coping skills.

Greater risk

Characteristic autistic behaviour tends not to emerge before the age of 2 years and firm diagnoses are usually only made after this age.

"Because there are no good behavioural signs at this young age (under 1 year), we wanted to see whether, by measuring the activity of the brain in a more direct way, we might be able to pick up earlier warning signs," Johnson said in a telephone interview.

His team looked at babies at greater risk of developing autism later in life because they had an older brother or sister with the condition.

The researchers used passive sensors placed on the scalp to register brain activity while the babies viewed faces that switched from looking at them to looking away.

The babies who were later found to be typically developing children showed a clear difference in brain activity in response to a face looking towards them compared to a face looking away.

In contrast, most of the babies who later went on to develop autism symptoms showed much less of a difference in brain activity when someone made eye contact and then looked away.

The researchers cautioned however that the predictive markers were not 100% accurate, as the study did find cases of babies who showed no differences in brain function and were not later diagnosed, and vice versa.

Johnson said the results were a first step toward earlier autism diagnosis, but added that more research was needed to confirm and strengthen the brain activity markers.
Read more on:    health  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

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
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. 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

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The quest for understanding has reached a new intense emotional level. The more tempestuous your emotions are, the bigger the...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.