Autism can be detected in babies as young as four months, says new study

This could be a huge step for parents

August 20 2018

Signs of Autism can be detected in children as young as four months by measuring their reactions to nursery rhymes, claims a new report.

By monitoring babies' reactions to songs like ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ or playing peek-a-boo, scientists can see the level of brain activity.

Babies who were later diagnosed with autism showed a lower level of activity in games and songs but showed more reaction to non-emotive images like pictures of cars.

The study was part of a collaboration between scientists from Birkbeck, University of London, University of Cambridge, University College London and King's College London and part of the wider British Autism Study for Infant Siblings (BASIS) Network and is the first to show baby brain responses younger than six months and the correlation to Autism.

'Given the importance of responding to others in our social world, it is possible that different attentional biases in babies may impact on the development of social brain responses, which can continue to affect the child's developmental trajectory as they get older,’ Dr Sarah Lloyd-Fox told The Daily Telegraph.

‘Identifying early patterns of altered development which may later associate with ASD is important, because it will allow doctors to offer earlier interventions and provide families with earlier avenues for support.'

In Australia, it's estimated that one in 100 people have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – which is around 230,000.

Autism is a condition that can affect the brain’s growth and development, often characterised by challenges in social interaction and communication.

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