From: CNN Health, cnn.com
February 17, 2012
“This is the earliest study of brain development using neuro-imaging,” says Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D. “By six months of age, even before the symptoms [of autism] emerge, the brain networks that connect different brain regions do not develop correctly.”
Dawson is not only one of the study authors, she’s also the Chief Science Officer of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, which, along with the National Institutes of Health and the Simons Foundation, funded the research.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with researchers from other locations of the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) network, studied 92 babies who were all considered to be at high-risk for developing autism because they had older siblings with the neurodevelopmental disorder. Currently, about one in 110 children in the United States has autism, according to the latest CDC statistics.
All 92 infants underwent a type of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan called diffusion tensor imaging. MRIs do not use radiation and therefore are safe to use on babies.
Most of the children were scanned again at the age of 12 and 24 months. They were also given standard behavioral assessments for autism when they were 24 months old. After the behavioral assessment, 28 children met the criteria for autism, 64 did not.