24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904

Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Basic Information
Infant Development: How Your Baby Grows and MaturesInfant Parenting: Keeping Your Baby Healthy and HappyInfant Safety: Keeping Your Baby SafeInfant Enrichment: Stimulating Your Baby
More InformationLatest News
Prolonged Breast-Feeding May Guard Against Teen EczemaEven Partial Breast-Feeding for First Few Months Lowers SIDS RiskHypothermia May Help Newborns With EncephalopathyOb/Gyns Warn Against 'Vaginal Seeding' Trend for NewbornsCDC Updates Zika Guidance for Infant CareTdap Given in Pregnancy Protects Infants From PertussisWhooping Cough Shot Works, But Many Moms-to-Be Skip It: CDCHeart-Lung Fitness Challenged in Early Full-Term BabiesHigher Cigarette Taxes May Mean Fewer Infant DeathsVision Problems Common in Babies Infected With Zika'Modest at Best' Discriminatory Ability for CBC Test in InfantsAnti-Vaccine Info in Pregnancy May Delay Infant ImmunizationAnti-Vaccine Family Members, Friends Spur Many Moms to Delay Baby's ShotsParents of Preemies End Up Just Fine: StudyCharacteristics of Diabetes in Infancy ExploredPicky Eater? It Might Just Be Your Child's PersonalityImpaired Eyesight May Be First Sign of Zika Damage in BabiesTissue Testing Can Spot Zika at Birth: CDCMany Preemies Don't Struggle in SchoolSpecial Brain Scans May Predict Autism in High-Risk BabiesCan Sharing Your Bedroom With Baby Come With Risks?Does Dad Time With Infants Boost Babies' IQ?Eye Problems May Be Tied to Zika, Lab Study SuggestsHealth Tip: Storing Breast Milk SafelyNew Device Approved for Esophageal Birth DefectHappy Mom Means Less Colicky BabyEpilepsy: Another Potential Zika Threat to BabiesRisk of Birth Defects 20 Times Higher for Zika Moms: CDCMost Cow's Milk Baby Formulas Don't Up Risk of Type 1 DiabetesNeurodevelopment at Age 2 Not Worse After ART ConceptionFor a Colicky Baby, You Might Give Acupuncture a TryACOG Recommends Delayed Umbilical Cord ClampingFDA Issues Anesthesia Warning for Pregnant Women, Kids Under 3Birth Defects From Zika More Far-Reaching Than ThoughtStudy Shows How Zika Attacks Infant BrainRare Infant Seizure Disorder Often MissedZika Babies May Look Normal at Birth, Display Brain Defects Later: CDC
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Special Brain Scans May Predict Autism in High-Risk Babies

HealthDay News
by By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jun 7th 2017

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, June 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say a special type of MRI may someday help doctors predict which high-risk babies might develop autism in their toddler years.

Known as functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI), the scan gives a peek at how different regions of the brain work together. As it turns out, certain areas that are connected also seem linked to autism risk, the researchers said.

The fcMRI allowed the researchers to accurately predict 9 out of 11 high-risk babies who later showed behavioral signs of autism.

"We used functional brain imaging information at 6 months and clinical information from 24 months to figure out if we could identify which high-risk infants would go on to develop autism," said study author Robert Emerson, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The hope is that such a prediction tool could one day be used to identify babies in need of early intervention.

"What we found is exciting, but our findings have to be replicated," said co-senior study author Dr. John Pruett Jr. He's an associate professor of psychiatry, radiology and psychological and brain sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Autism spectrum disorders affect about 1 in 68 children in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, children can't be diagnosed until they're around 2 years old. At that time, behavioral symptoms of the disorder -- such as difficulty behaving, communicating and interacting with others, repetitive behaviors and obsessions -- begin to show.

The earlier a child gets behavioral intervention services, the better the outcome generally, according to the CDC. And a recent study even found that when an intervention was started in babies before symptoms first appeared, those babies had better attention, language, communication and social skills at age 3. The study was presented recently at the International Meeting for Autism Research, in San Francisco.

"There's very little behaviorally that tells us about autism in the first year of life," Pruett said. "It would be very important if we could identify brain-based features early in life. We could identify infants at an even higher risk and get them into studies of infant adaptations of current toddler-age interventions."

The new study included 59 infants considered at high risk of autism because they had a sibling with autism.

"In this high-risk group, there's a 20 percent conversion rate to autism," Emerson said.

The babies underwent fcMRI when they were 6 months old. They were sleeping during the test.

The fcMRI viewed neural activity across 230 different regions in the brain. The researchers looked for areas with coordinated activity, and focused on those connections known to be tied to features of autism -- language skills, repetitive behaviors and social behavior.

The researchers then developed a computer program to help them sort through this information and identify which babies were likely to develop autism, and which would probably not.

Eleven of the 59 babies developed autism. The test and program were able to predict 82 percent of those cases. All of the children who didn't develop autism were correctly identified as unlikely to get the disorder in the toddler years, the researchers said.

Thomas Frazier is the chief science officer of Autism Speaks. He wasn't involved with the study, but reviewed the findings.

"Autism has been thought to be a disorder of connections in the brain, and the fact that the function connectivity MRI is a good predictor of autism helps confirm those suspicions," Frazier said.

"Another interesting thing is that it shows how early in life we can see differences in autism. It's remarkable that they could capture brain changes related to autism at 6 months," he said.

Like the researchers, Frazier said this study needs to be replicated. And he wondered, "Can it be replicated in a way to expand its use beyond high-risk siblings?"

The findings were published June 7 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

More information

Learn more about how autism is currently diagnosed at Autism Speaks.