Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Earliest Marker for Autism Found in Young Infants

Published: Thursday, November 07, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, November 07, 2013
Bookmark and Share
NIH-funded study finds attention to others’ eyes declines in 2 to 6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism.

Eye contact during early infancy may be a key to early identification of autism, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. Published this week in the journal Nature, the study reveals the earliest sign of developing autism ever observed — a steady decline in attention to others’ eyes within the first two to six months of life.

“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 Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH. “The sooner we are able to identify early markers for autism, the more effective our treatment interventions can be.”

Typically developing children begin to focus on human faces within the first few hours of life, and they learn to pick up social cues by paying special attention to other people’s eyes. Children with autism, however, do not exhibit this sort of interest in eye-looking. In fact, a lack of eye contact is one of the diagnostic features of the disorder.

To find out how this deficit in eye-looking emerges in children with autism, Warren Jones, Ph.D., and Ami Klin, Ph.D., of the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University School of Medicine followed infants from birth to age 3. The infants were divided into two groups, based on their risk for developing an autism spectrum disorder. Those in the high risk group had an older sibling already diagnosed with autism; those in the low risk group did not.

Jones and Klin used eye-tracking equipment to measure each child’s eye movements as they watched video scenes of a caregiver. The researchers calculated the percentage of time each child fixated on the caregiver’s eyes, mouth, and body, as well as the non-human spaces in the images. Children were tested at 10 different times between 2 and 24 months of age.

By age 3, some of the children — nearly all from the high risk group — had received a clinical diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. The researchers then reviewed the eye-tracking data to determine what factors differed between those children who received an autism diagnosis and those who did not.

“In infants later diagnosed with autism, we see a steady decline in how much they look at mom’s eyes,” said Jones. This drop in eye-looking began between two and six months and continued throughout the course of the study. By 24 months, the children later diagnosed with autism focused on the caregiver’s eyes only about half as long as did their typically developing counterparts.

This decline in attention to others’ eyes was somewhat surprising to the researchers. In opposition to a long-standing theory in the field — that social behaviors are entirely absent in children with autism — these results suggest that social engagement skills are intact shortly after birth in children with autism. If clinicians can identify this sort of marker for autism in a young infant, interventions may be better able to keep the child’s social development on track.

“This insight, the preservation of some early eye-looking, is important,” explained Jones. “In the future, if we were able to use similar technologies to identify early signs of social disability, we could then consider interventions to build on that early eye-looking and help reduce some of the associated disabilities that often accompany autism.”

The next step for Jones and Klin is to translate this finding into a viable tool for use in the clinic. With support from theNIH Autism Centers of Excellence program, the research team has already started to extend this research by enrolling many more babies and their families into related long-term studies. They also plan to examine additional markers for autism in infancy in order to give clinicians more tools for the early identification and treatment of autism.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 4,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,300+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Study to Assess Shorter-Duration Antibiotics in Children
Physicians plan a clinical trial to evaluate whether short course anti-biotics are effective at treating CAP in children.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
First New HIV Vaccine Study for Seven Years Begins
South Africa hosts historic clinical trial of experimental HIV vaccine aiming to safely prevent HIV infection.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Antibody Protects Mice from Zika Infection
Researchers develop human-derived antibody protected pregnant mice and their developing fetuses from Zika infection.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Food Additives Promote Inflammation, Colon Cancer
Dietary emulsifiers promoted colon cancer in a mouse model by altering gut microbes and increasing gut inflammation.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Protein-Folding Gene Helps Heal Wounds
Researchers identified a protein that dramatically accelerates wound healing in animal models.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
More Immunotherapy Options Approved for Lung Cancer
The FDA has approved a new immunotherapy drug for certain patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Big Data for Infectious Disease Surveillance
NIH-led effort examines use of big data from health records and other digital sources for uses in infectious disease surveillance.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Potential Therapies Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria Identified
Researchers create new identification method for drug and drug combinations that may combat resistant infections.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Testing Zika Vaccine in Humans Begins
The first of five planned clinical trials to test ZPIV vaccine in humans has begun.
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Genetic Markers Predict Malaria Treatment Failure
By comparing 297 parasite genomes to a reference malaria parasite genome, researchers have identified two genetic markers that are strongly associated with the parasites’ ability to resist piperaquine.
Monday, November 07, 2016
Cannabinoid Receptor Structure Revealed
Scientists provided a detailed view of the primary molecule through which cannabinoids exert their effects on the brain. The findings might help guide the design of more targeted medicines with fewer side effects.
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
NIH Researchers Unveil New Wound-Healing Role for Protein-Folding Gene in Mice
The study found that topical treatment of an Hsp60-containing gel dramatically accelerates wound closure in a diabetic mouse model.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Ebola-Affected Countries Receive NIH Support
The National Institutes of Health has established a new program to further research capacity to study Ebola and other epidemics.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Skin Patch to Treat Peanut Allergy
NIH-funded study suggests peanut protein patch is a safe and convenient method of treatment.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Gene Editing Corrects Sickle Cell Mutation
Researchers demonstrate a potential pathway to developing gene-editing treatments for sickle cell disease.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Scientific News
Big Genetics in BC: The American Society for Human Genetics 2016 Meeting
Themes at this year's meeting ranged from the verification, validation, and sharing of data, to the translation of laboratory findings into actionable clinical results.
Stem Cells in Drug Discovery
Potential Source of Unlimited Human Test Cells, but Roadblocks Remain.
Automated Low Volume Dispensing Trends
Gain a better understanding of the current and future market requirements for fully automated LVD systems.
Cancer Genetics: Key to Diagnosis, Therapy
When applied judiciously, cancer genetics directs caregivers to the right drug at the right time, while sparing patients of unnecessary or harmful treatments.
Designer Cell Fate Switches Could Streamline Stem Cell Biology
Researchers develop new method of reprogramming cells between cell types in a more efficient way than before.
Gene Therapy Maintains Clotting Factor for Hemophilia Patients
Following a single gene therapy dose, the highest levels of an essential blood clotting factor IX were observed in hemophilia B patients.
More Effective Strategy for Producing Flu Vaccines
Researchers have developed a virus backbone, allowing producers to grow vaccine viruses in mammalian cells, rather than in eggs.
Soil Carbon Release Might Equal U.S. Emissions
Research suggests 55M tons of carbon will be release from soils by 2050, 17% higher than prjected emissions.
Inspiring Futuristic Innovation: Brain ‘Organoids’
Scientists create artificial brains, providing an advanced model for studying brain tumour development.
Predicting Leukaemia Development in Cancer Patients
Biomarker may predict which formerly treated cancer patients will develop highly fatal form of leukemia.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
4,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!