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Autism Biomarker Candidates

Accelerated brain growth in infants

2017_03_newsletterOn February 16, 2017, the journal Nature published a study outlining a potential measure for predicting ASD diagnosis before symptoms are apparent in young children. The researchers performed brain imaging at three different points in time on a total of 148 infants – 42 of whom defined as low-risk and 106 of whom were defined as high-risk, based on whether or not the infants had older siblings with ASD. Measuring the growth of the brain’s surface area at 6, 12, and 24 months, the researchers noted a trend in accelerated growth (especially in the brain’s cortex, which processes information from the environment) in the infants who were ultimately diagnosed with ASD.

The researchers used this information to develop an algorithm that accurately predicted 80 percent of ASD cases in a separate group of infants.


Hazlett HC et al. (2017). "Early brain development in infants at high risk for autism spectrum disorder." Nature 542(7641): 348-351.