Latest News » Scientists discover new autism indicator in infants

Researchers have made a breakthrough in autism recognition.

Autism is a complex condition that affects as many as one in 50 children in the United States, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While there is no cure for autism, identifying this disorder as early as possible can help families determine the best approach in terms of  treatment – whether they consult a doctor about the best nutrition for autism or investigate therapeutic avenues. After all, though each child with autism is truly a treasure to be cherished, certain means of intervention can help these individuals manage symptoms relating to communication and overall health.

Recently, scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) made a substantial breakthrough in our understanding of autism that could pave the way for earlier intervention.

“Autism isn’t usually diagnosed until after age 2, when delays in a child’s social behavior and language skills become apparent. This study shows that children exhibit clear signs of autism at a much younger age,” said Dr. Thomas Insel in an NIMH press release.

Dr. Insel and his colleagues reportedly focused on a common symptom of autism – an aversion to eye contact – and found that this is not necessarily present at birth, but may become noticeable between two to six months later. The scientists used eye-tracking technology to gauge how often infants at a high-risk of autism looked at a caregiver’s eyes and other facial features, documenting a substantial decline of eye contact over time in children who were eventually diagnosed with autism.

It remains to be seen how this discovery may come to influence autism diagnoses and treatments, but any potential to diagnose this condition at an earlier stage could be a boon to medical professionals and family members, as they can take advantage of specialized diets for autism and other treatment options.