Now, diagnosing autism may be easier

January 11th, 2010 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 11 (IANS) Children suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) process sound and language a fraction of a second slower than normal children. Measuring magnetic signals that mark this delay may become a standardised way to diagnose autism, say researchers.
“More work needs to be done before this can become a standard tool, but this pattern of delayed brain response may be refined into the first imaging biomarker for autism,” said Timothy PL Roberts, radiologist, who led the study at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

ASD are a group of childhood neuro-developmental disorders that cause impaired verbal communication, social interaction and behaviour. ASD affects as many as one percent of US children, according to a recent Centres for Disease Control report.

In the absence of objective biological measurements, psychologists and other caregivers rely on clinical judgements such as observations of behaviour to diagnose ASD, often not until a child reaches school age.

If researchers can develop imaging results into standardised diagnostic tests, they may be able to diagnose ASD as early as infancy, permitting possible earlier intervention with treatments, said a Children’s Hospital release.

They also may be able to differentiate types of ASD (classic autism, Asperger’s syndrome or other types) in individual patients.

These findings were published online in Autism Research.

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