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New test for autism in young children

by nickj on February 23, 2011

In a new study published on Tuesday, February 22, the Children's Hospital of Boston announced that it had analyzed brain scans of babies as young as six months old in the hopes of detecting autism early, reports Boston.com.

The research was published in BMC Medicine and looked at 79 infants and young children from 6 to 24-months-old.

Autism, which is usually observed when a child is 2 or 3-years-old, is defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as "a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior."

The National Institutes of Health estimates that somewhere between 3 to 6 children in 1,000 have Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The Boston study used electroencephalograms (EEGs) to measure the babies' brains for subtle differences in their social reactions which may not be apparent to a human observer.

The experiment involves the babies looking at an adult blowing bubbles.

According to the results, EEGs were effective at varying rates for girls and boys, depending on their age. It worked best for girls at 6 months and for boys at 9 months, with 80 percent accuracy in the first group and nearly 100 percent accuracy for the latter group.

The infants involved in the study either had older siblings with autism and were considered "high risk" or they were part of a control group of the same age.

In a different report related to autism on February 23, an autism insurance bill was approved by lawmakers in Arkansas, allowing families to receive aid for the treatment and diagnostic costs associated with autism in children under 18-years-old, according to Bloomberg.
 

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