One of the two projects is the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) network (www.earlistudy.org) lead by Drexel University. EARLI is led by principal investigator Craig Newschaffer, Ph.D. from the Drexel University School of Public Health (www.publichealth.drexel.edu) and also involves leading autism researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California and University of California Davis. EARLI will explore possible risk factors and biological indicators for ASD during the prenatal, neonatal and early postnatal periods. The project will enroll and follow up to 1200 mothers of children with autism at the start of a new pregnancy and document the development of their newborn siblings through age three. This groundbreaking study will provide a unique opportunity for studying possible autism environmental risk factors and biomarkers during different developmental windows as well as an opportunity to investigate the interplay of genetic susceptibility and environmental exposure. EARLI will begin enrolling subjects in the spring of 2009.
In the second project, researcher Joseph Piven, M.D., University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, hopes his multi-site effort, Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) (www.ibis-network.org), will help to identify brain differences in children who develop ASD using brain imaging techniques to monitor and analyze the brain development of 544 very young infant siblings of children with autism. Some of these infants may go on to develop ASD. Their brain images will be compared to those of other "typical" infants, to identify differences between children who develop autism and those who do not. This study involves exam
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