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Could A Brain Scan Help Diagnose Autism?

Researchers are experimenting with different kinds of brain scan they hope could help predict autism.

A man getting his brain scanned

Photo: Sybren Stüve (Flickr)

Researchers hope that brain scans will soon be able to help predict autism.

Autism is a growing problem and that it can be a devastating condition. But is there any way to test for autism during pregnancy, like doctors do for other diseases?

Developmental Condition

Autism spectrum disorder, as it’s called, is a developmental condition that impairs social interaction and communication in various ways.

And the short answer is no, there is no blood test to scan for autism in a fetus. But scientists have been working on developing brain scans that could help detect autism in kids and adults. And that could make a big difference.

Because it’s based mainly on observation, autism can go undetected for a while before it’s recognized.

Brain Scans And Detection

But a brain scan could change that. The researchers, at King’s College Institute of Psychiatry in London, studied 59 adult males, 20 with autism, 19 with ADHD, and 20 with normal brains.

First they evaluated them with standard IQ tests and interviews. Then the researchers scanned their brains.

The scans were 90% accurate in recognizing which subjects had autism.

Differences In Autistic Brains

That’s because the brains of people with autism tend to have structural differences in parts of the frontal and parietal lobes–areas of the brain involved in behavior and language.

The scan needs more testing before it’s put to widespread use. But if it pans out, the scan could help doctors diagnose autism more quickly and more accurately. And that, in turn, could lead to earlier and more effective therapies.

Read More:

  • Autism can be diagnosed with brain scan – study (The Guardian)

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