Researchers discovered a new way to predict the development of autism in toddlers. After performing brain scans on children, they used artificial intelligence to determine the risk of developing the disorderthey were exposed to, and how likely they were to develop the condition. This allows for an early intervention and a better control over the symptoms.
Brain scans can tell if a child has a high autism risk
The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, comes in addition to a previous study, which discovered that a future development of autism can be predicted more accurately if brain scans are performed on children younger than one.
Brain scans offered an accuracy of 81 percent in diagnosing autism before age two. This new method is able to predict the development of the disorder with a much higher accuracy, of 96 percent. Also, children are no longer required to perform so many scans.
ASD usually affects one in 68 children younger than 8, and is a general term used to describe a series of social and communication impairments. Scientists couldn’t identify one single cause of autism, and they suspect it is the result of a combination of genetic mutations, disruptions in the metabolism, and environmental factors.
These methods predict the disorder before age 2
However, autism was usually diagnosed around the age of 2, when the child began exhibiting a more pronounced social behavior. These methods are innovative, since they can detect the disorder or a higher risk to develop it in younger children.
Researchers analyzed the brain activity of several six-month-old children and focused on the neural connections usually affected in autism. Then, they taught a computer program to identify when these connections looked abnormal, and then tested it to predict who would develop the disorder. The results were amazing.
All children whose risk was assessed as high by the AI went on to develop autism. The machine made a small error, when it predicted the risk of two children as low, but they developed the disorder anyway. This research is massive, as families can find out early if their child is at risk, and they can prepare on how they should help him integrate.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons