A small study may have taken a big leap in terms of detecting autism. The researchers were able to find autism markers by using MRI scans. And they detected these traces even before the appearance of the affection’s visible onset.
In the United States, autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders. However, the affection still has no proven treatment or detection method. Despite the increasing number of cases, there is still much to learn about autism.
Nonetheless, a new study may help scientists gain new insight into the condition. This targeted the brain development of children. This process is critical in the child’s first year of life.
And detecting the earliest autism markers may help develop better detection and treatment methods. The latest study results were released earlier this month. They were published in the Nature journal.
The paper on the matter was titled as follows. “Early brain development in infants at high risk for autism spectrum disorder”.
Research targeted the fact that the earliest signs of autism may appear at around 12 to 18 months old. At around this age, some parents notice potential autism markers in their children.
The current study had a small number of participants. It involved 150 children. About 100 of them have older siblings that have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Which means that they presented a higher risk of developing such an affection.
During research, the scientists performed 3 MRI scans on all of the children. The MRI or magnetic resonance imaging test took place at three different ages. A first one was performed when the children were 6 months old. The second came when they were one year old. And a third and last MRI took place when they were 2 years old.
Upon analyzing the results, the scientists found the following. According to Geraldine Dawson, they were able to detect autism markers. And these were noted before or around the time when the symptoms started emerging.
Dawson is an autism researcher and clinical psychologist at Duke University. More exactly, the research found as follows. The enlargement of a child’s brain was seen to correlate with the certain set of facts. For example, the future onset of the disorder symptoms.
An analysis showed that a faster growth rate of the surface areas of the brain could help predict the development of the symptoms. This fact was noted in 8 out of 10 children with higher risks of developing the condition.
The aforementioned Dawson stated as follows. Scientists believe there may be a number of biological changes which might occur as soon as or before the autism symptoms start manifesting.
These ‘autism markers’, if proven true, may come to help detect autism at perhaps even its earliest stages. This could potentially allow specialists to intervene even before the syndrome has fully manifested itself.
Still, this small study scale is just a first step on the matter. And researchers still have to establish many other facts. For example, if autism exhibits differences in families with an already diagnosed child as opposed to those with no established genetic link.
Still, this study did allow the researchers to see how the brain develops even before a diagnosis. Similar future studies may help find a link and demonstrate the following fact. They may establish the relation between genetics and autism.
As such, the current study may be the spark needed for future research projects on the autism markers. Which may lead to new and better potential treatments.
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