17:54 16 February 2017
US scientists have successfully detected autism in babies using an MRI scan. They used the imaging technology on hundreds of infants with autistic siblings and had an 80per cent success rate of detecting children with autism biomarkers.
The study proves that it is possible to determine which infants that have older siblings with autism will be diagnosed with the same condition at 24 months of age.
Experts said that the study, which was published in Nature, was ‘groundbreaking’.
Senior author Dr Joseph Piven, a Professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said: 'Our study shows that early brain development biomarkers could be very useful in identifying babies at the highest risk for autism before behavioral symptoms emerge,'
'Typically, the earliest an autism diagnosis can be made is between ages two and three.
'But for babies with older autistic siblings, our imaging approach may help predict during the first year of life which babies are most likely to receive an autism diagnosis at 24 months.'
The project, which was led by the researchers at the Carolina Institute for Development Disabilities, involved hundreds of children across the US. Clinical sites included are the University of North Carolina, University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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