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Yale Study Suggests Autism Detection At Birth Possible

Posted July 10, 2006

— A new Yale University study suggests that scientists might soon be able to detect autism at birth.

  • On The Web:

    Autism Society of America

    Each year, about five out of every 1,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with autism. Most autistic children are not diagnosed until they are 2 years old or sometimes older, which can delay crucial early treatment and intervention.

    Currently, there is no blood test, brain scan or other high-tech test for autism. The diagnosis relies on the judgment of an experienced doctor, using a combination of interviews, questionnaires, and observations.

    But Yale scientists think an abnormal placenta could be an indicator of the disease, which, according to the

    Autism Society of America

    , is a complex developmental disability that results from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. Currently, there is no cure.

    "We found that children with autism were three to four times more likely to have (an) abnormal folding pattern than normal children," said Dr. Harvey Kliman with the Yale University School of Medicine.

    So, how can these two things be related?

    Researchers think the genetic material that causes the placenta to be abnormal might also be harming the development of the child's brain. Scientists admit it is not a direct link, but it is a definite warning signal.

    "It's like the check-engine light in your car," Kilman said. "It's basically saying something's going on. Maybe you should have this checked a little more thoroughly."

    The study was small and the findings are preliminary, which means, right now, this is not a reliable test. But if future research confirms these results, it could become a common way to diagnose autism.

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