Doctors to find early signs of autism in baby brains
Reuters informs that scientists have performed a new study thanks to which doctors will be able to detect early signs of autism in baby brains. According to researchers, the tests were first performed on 104 children between 6 and 10 months old and re-applied when the babies accomplished 3 years old.
The findings of the research could help doctors determine which children are more likely to develop autism before the disease sets in. They have discovered that the brains of the babies who have unusual patterns of activity during the first months of their lives will later on develop autism.
Autism is one of the most dreadful diseases of the century affecting 1 percent of the worldwide population. There are many symptoms that patients may experience from mental retardation to a profound inability to communicate. Milder cases present symptoms that are similar to Asperger's syndrome.
Doctors believe they can help autistic children develop communication and social skills if they discover the disease at an early stage. The medical analyses that are performed at present can only tell if a child suffers from autism after 2 years old when behavioral signs begin to show.
The leader of the study was Mark Johnson of Birkbeck from the University of London. He told reporters in a telephone interview that scientists were interested in taking a closer look at the brain because they could not study the behavior of the toddlers.
The children were selected based on their medical background. Most of the toddlers who were present at the study had an older brother or sister suffering from this condition. Passive sensors were applied on the scalp of the toddlers and the brain activity was registered while the babies viewed faces that switched from looking at them to looking away.
Toddlers who did not develop autistic symptoms showed a clear difference in brain activity when the face was looking at them, whereas the babies with chances of getting autism had a very small brain activity when they made eye contact. The study is not conclusive because scientists didn’t find babies who showed no differences in brain function. Further researches will be performed according to Johnson.