Can Software Algorithm’s be the New Way in Predicting Autism?
The latest software program developed using advanced technologies aims to assist doctors and medical practitioners to effectively predict whether an infant will be diagnosed on the spectrum at a later stage. The software is developed by a group of qualified researchers.
The software is effectively programmed to decode the obtained MRI Scans.
Though the program is seen to be only useful for infants with high risk, the findings can be seen as a step forward in diagnostic research and innovations.
Although autism has affected many individuals globally and is known to increasingly affect many infants, the roots of ASD are still not completely understood.
Autism is known to affect an individual’s communicative abilities which make interactions with social peers difficult. The global data obtained by the researchers puts autism figures at roughly 1 per every 68 children in the USA alone.
Researchers say that while the USA alone has more than 3 million people diagnosed with autism, globally the statistics are more disturbing.
Research is growing at a rapid pace despite the forces behind the condition remaining unknown. However, researchers are hopeful to be closer to decoding the forces as rapid advances in the genetics field take place.
A team of researchers led by Notable doctor, Dr. Piven, looked at siblings relationships to understand the condition in-depth.
The doctor says that many times when infants’ mental conditions are diagnosed, likely changes have taken place and exist within the youngster’s brain. The key lies in having the changes diagnosed earlier than their effects.
These will not only help an individual to lead a better life; it will also help us in understanding the disorder’s progression. Nevertheless, the team is hopeful for having newer treatments as research progresses across the globe.
Noting down these critical points, the team looked at the MRI scans that were obtained from the siblings of ASD children. They measured noticeable parameters that could be beneficial in predicting the future autism disorder outcomes.
Dr. Piven says, “Autism diagnosis usually takes place when the baby reaches the age of 2 or 3. However, for babies with autistic siblings, the imaging approach is seen to predict autism as early as the first year in an infant’s life.”
Nevertheless, the team looked for important clues such as searching for existing biomarkers in autistic children by analyzing MRI scans from babies in the age group of 6 months to 12 months.
It should be noted the team looked at 3 different conditions:
- Babies who had an older autistic sibling
- Babies who had an autistic sibling, but the infant was successful in thwarting autism condition
- Infants born with low familial risk but did not end up being diagnosed on the spectrum
The brains of the infants were measured on different parameters. Interestingly, the algorithm was seen to successfully predict 8 out of 10 children who were subject to the study.
Further, the researchers observed brain hyper-expansion in an autistic baby’s brain surface area. The increase at an early stage of an infant’s life was seen to be linked with an increasing growth of the brain during the consecutive years of the individual’s life.
This finding confirms earlier studies that also found an accelerated expansion of cortical surface area in ASD. Scientists believe that this expansion may impair the way in which cortical white matter develops.
The authors point toward a necessity for further studies but highlight that the results mark positive indicators in the field of autism.