Navigation Links
Signs of Autism May Show in Early Infancy

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Signs of autism may show up in babies as young as 1 month old, a new study shows.

But the tip-offs are not the usual red flags, such as a lack of eye contact or smiling, the researchers noted.

Instead, they found babies who needed neonatal intensive care and were later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have abnormal muscle tone and differences in their visual processing than babies who went on to develop normally after time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The differences, which were subtle and probably not something parents would easily spot, were picked up by trained experts closely observing babies, said study co-author Ira Cohen, chair of the psychology department at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities.

Still, "any parent concerned about the development of their child should have the child evaluated," Cohen said.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by problems with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and restricted interests and behaviors.

If the study findings are borne out by future research, they might lead to earlier identification and treatment of autistic children, experts say.

For the study, published in the September issue of Pediatrics, researchers identified 28 babies who spent time in the NICU and were later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. They matched them by gender and gestational age with 112 babies who did not have autism.

Babies' behavior and development was tested at 1 month old, 4 months and periodically until they were about 2.

At 1 month, infants later diagnosed with autism were more likely to show "persistent neurobehavioral abnormalities" after hospital discharge than other babies. About 40 percent of babies later diagnosed with autism showed abnormalities in the way they visual tracked objects compared to about 10.5 percent of babies who did not get an autism diagnosis.

More than half of babies later diagnosed with autism had abnormal arm tone -- either too floppy or too rigid -- compared to 22 percent of babies that developed normally.

At 4 months, infants later diagnosed with autism preferred higher amounts of visual stimulation than other babies their age. To test this, researchers showed infants flashing lights at varying speed. Children were given a choice of gazing at a monitor with more or less visually stimulating lights. Researchers determined preference by measuring how long the infant gazed at each monitor.

"It fits in anecdotally with what we see later on," Cohen said. "Kids with autism like looking at moving things in front of their eyes, such as flapping hands or following contours."

At 7 to 10 months, babies later diagnosed with autism also showed a decline in their thinking and motor skills, perhaps as a consequence of the very early sensory and motor signs. By about 13 months, the development of children with autism started to diverge markedly from those without, according to the study.

"The rationale for trying to identify kids sooner is that you can start intervention sooner, and the data indicate the sooner you start intervention the better children do," Cohen said.

Intervention by age 2 offers the best outcome, the authors wrote.

Researchers stressed that this research was done on babies from the NICU. More research is needed to confirm if babies born full-term and healthy who are later diagnosed with autism show similar types of abnormalities early on, Cohen said.

Recent estimates put the number of U.S. children with the disorder at one in 110, a number that has climbed steadily since the 1980s, according to background information in the study.

Previous research has found children born prematurely or of low birth weight are more likely to develop autism, though most kids with autism were not preemies, said Dr. Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism & Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

Landa said medical professionals taking care of post-NICU babies should pay more attention to muscle tone abnormalities.

"One of the big take-home messages in this study is the researchers are reporting on muscle tone and visual system, things that are not what one would maybe look at or expect to be precursors to autism," Landa said. "We are now thinking it's not the obvious old standbys like facial expression and eye contact that will be the main signs of autism in an infant."

More information

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on autism.

SOURCES: Ira Cohen, Ph.D, chair, psychology department, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, N.Y.; Rebecca Landa, Ph.D, director, Center for Autism & Related Disorders, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore; September 2010 Pediatrics

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report: Study Finds Racial Gaps Continue in Heart Disease Awareness, Low Knowledge of Heart Attack Warning Signs Among Women
2. Neutrogena Signs Actress & Musician Miranda Cosgrove
3. True Signs of Autism May Not Appear Until 1st Birthday
4. Apptix Signs 100,000 Seat Hosted Exchange Email Contract
5. Sculptor Doug Roper Designs Bronze Sculpture for Morgan's Wonderland Park
6. UNC study: Obese 3-year-olds show early warning signs for future heart disease
7. Pandemic flu, like seasonal H1N1, shows signs of resisting Tamiflu
8. Enterprise PDM Integration has Never Been Easier; Zero Wait-State Announces Leading SolidWorks Reseller GoEngineer as Master Distributor for DesignState
9. Healthy Aging Icon Ups Patient Motivational Levels, Signs His Personal Trainer To Age-Management Team
10. Top Dentist in Laguna Niguel, Dr. Todd Snyder of Aesthetic Dental Designs, to Provide Six Month Smiles Cosmetic Braces
11. Mother of Binge Drinking Victim Urges Students and Parents to Discuss Signs of Alcohol Poisoning, Emphasize Peer Responsibility Prior to Spring Break
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Signs of Autism May Show in Early Infancy
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... , ... Cycling, running, and walking are regular Sunday activities for many South ... 28, 2016. , That’s when the 7th annual ANF Group Tour de Broward ... and families at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. , The community fundraiser, sponsored ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... ingredient list of its hemorrhoid ointment to its website. , “Our goal is ... people suffering from hemorrhoids. Adding the comparison chart and ingredient list allows our ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... At Grand Dental PC, their priority is ... When you have dental problems, you need to turn to a dentist who listens ... treat your needs, a friendly dentist who counsels you on the best ways to ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... ... Dr. Seth D. Margulies specializes in orthodontics and is based in Perth ... the best available orthodontic experience in the area. Dr. Margulies has met all ... the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... new study by UPMC and KingMed Diagnostics researchers. Their ... years found that consultation with UPMC pathologists resulted in significantly altered treatment plans ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015  Novartis will demonstrate the strength ... th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. ... as well as supportive care, including key findings in ... cell therapies. The ASH Annual Meeting will be held ... Novartis Oncology . "We will be presenting ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... and BOSTON , November 30, 2015 ... develop potential new medicines directed at up to 10 ... --> PFE ) to research and develop ... protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets across multiple therapeutic areas. ... drug discovery and development company and wholly-owned subsidiary of ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , November 30, 2015 ... or the "Company") announced today that it was informed by ... and Drug Safety (MFDS) has approved its Exablate Neuro ... --> --> Insightec,s Exablate ... treatment alternative that combines two technologies: Focused Ultrasound, which ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: