Australian scientists have developed a genetic test to predict autism spectrum disorder in children, which could provide a long-sought way for early detection and intervention, according to a new study.
About one in 150 children has autism, with symptoms ranging from social awkwardness and narrow interests to severe communication and intellectual disabilities, said researchers led by the University of Melbourne.
The researchers used U.S. data from more than 3,000 individuals with autism in their study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, to identify 237 genetic markers in 146 genes and related cellular pathways.
By measuring these markers, which either contribute to or protect an individual from developing autism, scientists could assess the risk of developing autism.
“This test could assist in the early detection of the condition in babies and children and help in the early management of those who become diagnosed,” lead researcher Stan Skafidas said in a statement.