A new study shows significant differences in brain development in high-risk infants who develop autism starting as early as age 6 months. The findings published in the American Journal of Psychiatry reveal that this abnormal brain development may be detected before the appearance of autism symptoms in an infant's first year of life. Autism is typically diagnosed around the age of 2 or 3.
The study offers new clues for early diagnosis, which is key, as research suggests that the symptoms of autism -- problems with communication, social interaction and behavior -- can improve with early intervention. "For the first time, we have an encouraging finding that enables the possibility of developing autism risk biomarkers prior to the appearance of symptoms, and in advance of our current ability to diagnose autism," says co-investigator Dr. Alan Evans at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital -- the Neuro, McGill University, which is the Data Coordinating Centre for the study.