- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2017

A child’s risk of developing autism could possibly be assessed as early as one year old with a brain scan, according to the results of a new study. That could give parents and therapists a head start on early treatment.

“The ability to accurately predict who will develop autism opens up tremendous new opportunities to develop effective therapies starting in the first year of life,” said study co-author Robert Schultz of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The study worked by measuring babies’ brains at 6, 12 and 24 months of age and observing changes in “the overall volume, surface area and thickness” of different areas of the brain, said the Inquirer. A computer algorithm based on the data had a 90 percent accuracy rate in predicting new cases of autism.

“Babies that went on to have autism by age two years showed faster expansion of the cortical surface area,” explained Mr. Schultz, “particularly in regions of the brain for language, cognitive control, and social perception, such as understanding facial expressions.”

Mr. Schultz said detecting autism risk before symptoms present themselves “offers hope for being able to blunt the development of autism and dramatically improve outcomes” in the patients.

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