Friday, February 17, 2012

Groundbreaking AJP Study Finds Early Brain Changes in Autism

The changes in brain development that underlie autism spectrum disorder may be detectable in children as young as 6 months, according to a groundbreaking study appearing online today in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Researchers at four clinical sites prospectively examined the growth and organization of white matter in the brains of infants deemed to be at high risk of autism spectrum disorder. They found that there was an aberrant pattern of white matter development in those infants who went on to display autism spectrum disorder by 24 months, compared to those who did not. The finding is receiving wide publicity, including coverage on ABC News and CNN, because it suggests that autism may be detectable before symptoms begin.

Study coauthor Geri Dawson, Ph.D., who is chief science officer of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, said in a statement released today, “These results offer promise that we may one day be able to identify infants at risk for autism before the behavioral symptoms are present. The goal is to intervene as early as possible to prevent or reduce the onset of disabling symptoms. One promising area of follow-up research is to identify the specific genetic and biological mechanisms behind the observed differences in brain development.”

Click here to read the AJP study.

(Image: Tramper/


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