Baby brain development may signal autism

Babies who develop autism later in life may show signs of the disease in their brain development as early as six months old, new research has found.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other institutions looked at brain scans taken on babies at night while they were sleeping.

The scans indicate autism may develp in infants over time, according to the findings published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

By aged 24 months, 28 of 92 infants showed the medical signs for autism spectrum disorders. The scans showed changes in the pathways that connect brain regions to one another, including changes in multiple fiber pathways in the brain’s white matter.

The study is part of the Infant Brain Imaging Study Network, a $10 million initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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