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New Autism Study Recruiting Newborns

By Chelsea Toledo, M.A. on October 2, 2012


Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is typically diagnosed in early childhood. The rates of diagnosis have increased in recent years—from 2006 to 2008 its prevalence increased by 23 percent, with 1 in 88 children being diagnosed in the United States. Studies have shown that ASD is more commonly diagnosed in boys, and that 20 percent of children with ASD will have a sibling with the disorder.


What’s New: The National Institutes of Health have awarded a 5 year, $2.2 million grant to The Center for Autism Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for a study on children starting at 3 months old. The researchers are currently recruiting expecting parents and parents of newborns with or without a family history of ASD. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they aim to pinpoint early signs of ASD by observing changes in the children's brains from infancy to 5 years of age.


Why it’s important: Earlier research at CHOP demonstrated that autistic children's brains develop differently than those of children without the disorder. These internal differences emerge before the disorder becomes externally apparent. Children who receive timely interventions for autism have better life outcomes, so understanding the early changes in the brain could lead to quicker diagnosis and more effective therapy.

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