Children who suffer from autism have the potential to show signs of brain responses that differ in their first year of life. Scientists have revealed in a study that may be helpful for doctors can diagnose the disorder of autism early in the foreseeable future.
British researchers studied 104 infants aged 6 to 10 months and then re-studied after a 3-year-old baby, and found that those who could potentially suffer from autism have a pattern of unusual brain activity while making eye contact with others. Mark Johnson of Birkbeck University of London, who led the research, said the findings suggest a direct brain research can help predict future risk of autism in infants aged 6 months.
Autism has affected about 1 percent of people worldwide who cover the spectrum of disorders ranging from mental retardation and profound inability to communicate with relatively mild symptoms such as seen in people with Asperger syndrome.
Characteristics of autistic behavior in children with autism tend not to appear before the age of 2 years and the diagnosis is usually made only after this age. Mark Johnson said in a telephone interview show that since there was no sign of good manners at a young age (less than 1 year), we wanted to see if the measure brain activity directly, we may be able to take the warning signs of an earlier.
Mark Johnson and his team saw the baby at greater risk of autism later in life because they have a brother or sister with the condition. The researchers used passive sensors placed on the scalp to monitor brain activity when infants saw faces that were previously seen them then look away.
The babies are growing normally show a clear difference in brain activity in response to faces that look at them in comparison with the face turned away. In contrast, the majority of infants with symptoms of autism showed much less of a difference in brain activity when a person is making eye contact and then turned away.
The researchers also cautioned however that these predictions are not 100 percent accurate, as this study found no cases of infants who do not have differences in brain function. Mark Johnson said the outcome of this is the first step toward early diagnosis of autism, but added that more research is needed to confirm and amplify markers of brain activity.