Study Finds Brain Scans May Predict Autism in Infants


Researchers announced on Wednesday that a new type of brain scan would be able to predict whether a baby as young as six months old will develop autism.

Scientists argue children considered high risk because an older brother or sister has autism may be useful for predicting the disease. Currently, the brain scans chose nine out of 11 kids who were later diagnosed with autism out of a group of 59 high-risk children.

Dr. Diana Bianchi, the director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said, “If future studies confirm these results, detecting brain differences may enable physicians to diagnose and treat autism earlier than they do today.”

Researchers are trying to identify different types of scans to find any correlational evidence between brain scans and early autism.

The team of researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine structural changes in the brains of babies born with autism. The team of scientists from the University of North Carolina and Washington University in St. Louis also used another type of MRI called the functional connectivity MRI to see if they may find differences in the way different regions of the brain connect with one another while a child is only an infant. Ultimately, researchers were able to find differences, which allowed them to correctly predict with nearly 90% accuracy infants who were later diagnosed with autism.

This research comes after researchers found a new way to treat Autism. Scientists are focusing on improving the type of bacteria discovered in the stomach by doing fecal microbial transplants. In a small study of fewer than 20 participants found a 20 to 25% autism behavior improvement. For example, researchers discovered an improvement in social skills and sleeping habits.

Autism is a developmental disorder that weakens the capability to talk and socialize.