Autistic children show signs of disease at six months old

New research shows that differences in the brain development of autistic children are already visible in infants as young as six months old.

By Veronique LaCapra (St. Louis, Mo.)

Researchers at four study sites nationwide used a type of MRI scan to look at brain development in the younger siblings of autistic children, who are known to be at higher risk for autism themselves.

The children were scanned at six, 12, and 24 months of age, while the children were sleeping.

Child psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Botteron led the study at Washington University.

“We were able to detect differences in brain structure as early as six months of age, in the children who later went on to develop autism. And the trajectory of change from six to 12 to 24 months was particularly different between the children that went on to develop autism, and those that did not,” Botteron said.

Botteron says the goal is to eventually be able to use this type of brain scan to diagnose and help children who are at risk for autism.