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Brain Scan Can Detect Autism In Infants 166

Posted by samzenpus
from the early-check dept.
kkleiner writes "A new study shows that brain scans can detect autism in children as young as 6 months old. Researchers at University of North Carolina's Institute for Developmental Disabilities imaged the brains of 92 children who were at high risk for autism. Scans were performed when the children were 6 months, 1-year, and 2-years old. At 2 years, the age when children are typically diagnosed, 30 percent of the children were found to have autism. The researchers then compared the brain images of the autistic children with the others. They saw differences in the brain's white matter, the axon-laden pathways that transmit electrical signals to distant parts of the brain. Of the 15 pathways analyzed, 12 were significantly different between autistic and non-autistic children."
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Brain Scan Can Detect Autism In Infants

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:20PM (#39142479) Homepage Journal

    It's like a smoke detector which is telling you your house is already on fire, but can do nothing about putting it out or preventing it from happening.

    Might be useful in some way for consulting with parents, but a knife-edge decision there, to decide whether to tell people their child might develop Autism, with the possibility you culd be wrong. While it is interesting information the practice side of how to use it raises some questions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:25PM (#39142531)

    If the brain is showing abnormality at birth or close to it then we can at least rule out post-natal causes (e.g vaccines). Perhaps epidemiologists should start looking into diet deficiencies or exposure to toxins during pregnancy.

  • by LehiNephi (695428) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:27PM (#39142539) Journal
    There are a couple questions I have about the study:

    1) How close was the correlation between the odd brain scans and incidence of autism? what was the error rate?
    2) Can the brain scan be used to predict autism, rather than as a 20/20 hindsight study?
    3) If the test does reliably predict autism, how practical is it to put it into use? I can't imagine it would make much sense to do it to every 6-month-old--the cost would be prohibitive, particularly since it's a relatively small percentage of the population which are autistic. Would this become something that is only used for children who have a high risk of developing autism?

    /parent of an autistic son
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:30PM (#39142567) Journal

    If the brain is showing abnormality at birth or close to it then we can at least rule out post-natal causes (e.g vaccines).

    Well they already have been, but maybe this'll convince the Oprah/Jenny McCarthy/Jim Carey crowd.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:43PM (#39142669) Journal

    Exactly. Next they need to scan another group of babies at 6 months, identify the autistic type scans and see if that predicts autism 2 years out.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:51PM (#39142715)

    Not a chance, they aren't being rational to start with so evidence and facts are irrelevant.

  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @09:05PM (#39142839) Homepage Journal
    I used to think of eugenics as being cruel, but I've started to sympathize with first poster after having lived next door to a family with an autistic kid. The kid spent the whole day staring silently into a corner and spent all night in very audible screaming fits. Their burden became their unwilling neighbors' burden.

    My friend's family was also at the mercy of their extremely well-built and violent retard son. Aside from almost drowning his brother in the backyard pool(a story I mentioned here as AC), he flashed everybody at his brother's birthday party, shot up his whole house with a BB gun, he tried to rape his own mom after getting into the liquor cabinet. They were an otherwise-perfect, well-off family.

    Sanctity of life, indeed. "If the fetus is a Downs, grip it out by the crown" is my motto.
  • by petman (619526) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @09:48PM (#39143133)
    Why don't you go and put a bullet through that kid's head right now? Since you're advocating killing him before he was born, surely him having gone through a few years of life is not worse off than not having gone through life at all?
  • by budgenator (254554) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @10:59PM (#39143651) Journal

    Lack of empathy that your displaying is also a frequent symptom of autism.

  • by drsmack1 (698392) on Friday February 24, 2012 @12:26AM (#39144063)

    >> Yes social skills are a bit less, from the perspective of others at least - to those of us with Asperger's
    >> (and this is a practically universal view amongst us) socialization is simply a lower form of thought that detracts from greater things.

    I imagine other examples of lower thought that detracts from greater things:

    Eye contact
    Bathing
    Navigation
    Hand eye coordination
    Moderation
    Empathy

    And as for "and this is a practically universal view amongst us"

    NEWS FLASH: Group of people decide that what makes them different is actually an advantage. Comments from muscle men and goatze at 11.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday February 24, 2012 @01:15AM (#39144275) Homepage

    In 2003, they would not even attempt a diagnosis of Autism before age 3, even though all the research was pointing toward early intervention with socialization therapy as highly effective at mitigating the worst of the debilitating effects of ASD.

    Getting this diagnosis at 6 months can kick off a course of ABA and socialization focus at a time when it matters most to the child's future.

    I just spoke with a surgeon this morning, married to another surgeon, who have a 16 year old son with straight As and no concept of what a friend is - if they had noticed earlier and done something about it, he might (according to the literature) have more of a social life at this point. Maybe he's happy the way he is, but at some point, social withdrawal has a negative impact on the ability to pro-create, and even though children have a negative correlation to happiness, it is sad to not be able to have them if you really want to.

  • by tgibbs (83782) on Friday February 24, 2012 @01:26AM (#39144319)

    Actually, nobody knows whether there is effective treatment for autism in infants. Until autism can be reliably diagnosed in infants, there is no way to test whether any kind of early intervention will improve outcome.

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:22AM (#39144963)
    Autism, asperger and high IQ are not known to be related. There are at least as people with IQs just as high that do not show any autistic characteristics as there are with them. At least, there is no scientific study that proves absolute correlation. The only reason people seem to think they are, is because Savants are so fascinating to observe.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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