Autism could be found in newborns with a simple hearing test.
Health News said that researchers from Rutgers University think that brain wave data from a normal hearing test can be used to spot autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at birth.
As the number of people with autism keeps going up, scientists are working hard to figure out what causes it. Researchers are also looking for ways to find out if a child has ASD as soon as possible. This is important because children with ASD need help and treatment as soon as possible.
The study, which came out on February 14 in the journal PNAS Nexus, found that children who were diagnosed with autism as babies and then tested with the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test years later had delays in how their brains responded to sounds.
Electrodes are placed on the head for the ABR test, which measures brain wave activity in response to sounds heard through headphones. This test is often used to check newborns for hearing problems.
The researchers found that babies who were later diagnosed with ASD responded to sounds 1.76 milliseconds later on average than babies who did not later develop ASD.
The study found that the ABR test, which is often given to newborns, babies, and young children, already has information about brain wave impulses. But most of the time, statistical analysis methods used today don’t use this information.
But the researchers’ most recent study of the delays in brain wave signals could be combined with the standard screening of newborns to make an all-in-one tool for detecting autism.
Why is it important to find something early?
Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment with evidence-based therapies can make a big difference in the quality of life for people with autism and their families.
ASD can now be accurately diagnosed by trained professionals as early as age 2, and sometimes even earlier. But most autistic kids aren’t diagnosed until much later, which can make treatment take longer. Still, parents can sometimes spot the early signs of autism by keeping an eye on their child’s behaviour and language development.
The study’s authors say that the analysis of brain wave delays in the ABR test, which can be seen at birth, could soon lead to a way to test newborns for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
If researchers are able to make this technology, it could help find and treat autistic people much earlier.