A sign of autism may appear in babies just a few months old. Between 2 and 6 months after birth, infants who will later develop an autism spectrum disorder lose interest in looking at other people’s eyes, scientists report November 6 in Nature.
The results will have “huge implications” for spotting the disorder early, says cognitive neuroscientist Atsushi Senju of Birkbeck, University of London, who was not involved with the study. Many children with autism aren’t diagnosed until age 4 or older. With reliable early indicators of the disorder, therapies could start much sooner and potentially ease or prevent future deficits.
The research could also give clues about what goes wrong in autism as the brain grows in the months after birth, Senju says.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.