Autism Can Be Identified By Chemical Changes in Brain

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BrainResearchers may have a new way to diagnose autism spectrum disorders (ASD), as they have discovered children with ASD between the ages of 3 and 10 undergo chemical changes in their brain distinguishable from children with other developmental disorders.

Specifically, MedPage Today reports concentrations of N-acetylaspartate, which plays important roles in several functions, rises over time to near-normal levels in ASD children. Stephen Dager, MD, from the University of Washington in Seattle, says that children with non-autism developmental delays continue to have low concentrations of the compound throughout development.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry online says the pattern of changes of several other brain chemicals is also different from healthy children and children with non-autism developmental delays.

These findings indicate that “a dynamic brain developmental process underlies ASD,” while developmentally delayed children had a “more static” pattern of changes. In the ASD children, the type of change which begins at 3 or 4 “likely reflect a process that begins at an earlier stage of development.”

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