Autism can now be diagnosed in babies as young as 3 months old, according to a Boston Children’s Hospital study.
The study shows that electroencephalograms (EEGs), which measure the brain’s electrical activity, can accurately predict or rule out autism in babies.
“This probably has its roots in prenatal brain development. It isn’t something that just happens postnatally,” Dr. Charles Nelson, who runs the infant screening process at Boston Children’s Hospital, said.
Dr. Nelson says the study’s accuracy in predicting autism in babies at 9 months old is nearly 100 percent.
The methods used in the study are clinical, behavioral and the EEG, when a cap of electrical sensors is placed on the child’s head to listen to the neurons interacting with each other.
The earlier autism is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment can be. Typically, many children aren’t diagnosed until age two or older.
“What we are looking for are patterns of brain activity that look different, therefore seem to develop in a pathway that leads to a child to develop autism,” Dr. Nelson said.
He says this screening method to diagnose autism may be available for pediatricians to use in three years.