A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry reveals that it is possible to identify infants who have a greater risk of developing autism when they grow up by studying their brain scan images.
The study was conducted by researchers at McGill University in Canada who analyzed 92 children with elderly siblings who were autistic and thus were thought to have a high risk of developing the disorder. The researchers conducted diffusion tensor imaging on the infants when they were six months old and other imaging tests when they were 12 months and 24 months old.
The researchers also made behavioral assessments when the infants were 24 months old and found that 28 children met the criteria for autisms spectrum disorders. On analyzing the imaging scans, the researchers found that 12 of the 15 tracts of the children's white matter tract development was different when compared to those who did not develop autism.
"Our international research team was able to detect differences in the wiring by six months of age in those children who went on to develop autism. The difference between high-risk infants that developed autism and those that did not was specifically in the white matter tract development - fiber pathways that connect brain regions", lead researcher Dr Alan Evans said.