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Computer Algorithm Can Predict Babies Likely To Develop Autism

17 February 2017

The MRI scans showed that their brains grew faster between 12 and 24 months of age, compared to babies who were not diagnosed with autism.

All had brain scans at six, 12 and 24 months old. Scientists have also found that infants who have older siblings with autism have a higher likelihood of developing the condition.

For the study, published this week in Nature, researchers conducted MRI scans on 150 children three times: at six months old, one year and two years.

Behavioral symptoms often become evident when children reach 2 to 4 years old but research suggests that those who receive the earliest treatment are likely to reap the most benefits.

The researchers cautioned in their report that more research is needed, but that the results suggest machine learning could help doctors identify the disorder early, and perhaps develop therapies or treatments that could improve the well-being of patients, or, perhaps one day, even stop the progression of the disorder.

"So we find it very promising". "The earlier an intervention is implemented, the better the outcome for kids with autism". A 2016 study, for instance, found a link between mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from the mother to child, to a number of forms of autism spectrum disorder.

However, she added: "One of the issues, at the moment, is when parents get an autism diagnosis, they don't get much information about what to do next".

"It's not simply generalized overgrowth", says Gordon Ramsay, director of the Spoken Communication Laboratory at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, Georgia, who was not involved in the study. The new findings hold particular promise for families of children who are at high-risk for the disorder, and may have practical implications for them "in the not too distant future", Piven argued.

"What really differentiates this work [is] the accuracy with which we can make a prediction", Elison said.

A team of researchers in the United States and Canada enrolled 106 infants in the study, some of whose siblings had been diagnosed with autism.

He said the overgrowth of the brain coincided with the behaviors typical of autism, that start to emerge in the second year. Also, the approach was almost flawless in predicting which high-risk babies would not develop ASD by age 2. "Early intervention, before age two, can change the clinical course of those children whose brain development has gone awry and help them acquire skills that they would otherwise struggle to achieve". Study lead the medical professionals to uncover early differences of a person who has an autism by looking the cerebral cortex - part of a brain that is responsible for the high level function like language. In the first instance, the results need to be confirmed with a larger follow-up study of high-risk infants: Piven's team has applied for NIH funding for such a study. Other key collaborators were New York University, the College of Charleston, McGill University and the University of Alberta.

About Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital.

Computer Algorithm Can Predict Babies Likely To Develop Autism