Brain Scans May Offer Scientists A Way To Predict Autism In Infancy

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The key differences in the MRIs were in how a child’s brain grew in the first year of life. Meanwhile, The Washington Post fact checks President Donald Trump’s claim that the number of autism cases in the country is spiking.

Stat: Brain Scans Show Potential To Diagnose Autism In Infancy
Children with autism tend to be diagnosed around age 4, after a child begins to socialize and speak. But the earlier a child is diagnosed, the better. Early-intervention speech and behavioral therapy programs have shown promise at reducing symptoms. Now, new research shows such a diagnosis could be predicted as early as one year old — based on scans of infants’ brains. Still, the study’s findings need to be repeated with a larger sample size before they could be used in a clinical setting, the researchers noted. (Sheridan, 2/15)

The Star Tribune: U Researchers May Have Found Way To Predict Autism In Kids 
Tracking the brain growth of infants can predict the likelihood that they will be diagnosed with autism in their toddler years, according to new research that could give doctors a head start on treating the developmental disorder. The study, published Wednesday in the prestigious journal Nature, took place at four U.S. hospitals and was co-authored by two University of Minnesota researchers. (Olson, 2/15)

Minnesota Public Radio: New Autism Research From The U Of M Could Lead To Early Detection 
New research from the University of Minnesota could lead to early autism detection in children at high risk of developing the disorder. Using MRI brain scans, researchers across the country, including the U of M, were able to pinpoint changes in the brains of children who later developed autism. And they were able to predict that diagnosis with 80 percent accuracy. (Enger, 2/15)

The Washington Post: Trump’s Claim That There’s ‘Tremendous Amount Of Increase’ In Autism Cases
In a meeting with educators, Trump asked the principal of a center that serves students with disabilities about the prevalence of autism. The principal, Jane Quenneville, spoke about the increasing number of students with autism at the Kilmer Center, a Fairfax County public school. But Trump then claimed that there was a “tremendous amount of increase” in autism in general — “really a horrible thing to watch.” This exchange is especially noteworthy, because Trump wants to create a vaccine safety commission that could roll back vaccine laws based on the widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism. (Lee, 2/16)

And a look at the president’s potential commission on vaccinations —

Stat: Trump’s Vaccine Commision Will Likely Move Forward
Prominent vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Wednesday that he expects the Trump administration to move forward with a vaccine safety commission and that President Trump pledged that he was “not going to back down” if the drug industry objected to the commission. Kennedy said he had spoken with presidential aides three times since his January meeting with Trump. His understanding is that a commission is still being developed, he said. “Why would anybody not want a vaccine safety commission?” he said at an event with actor Robert De Niro at the National Press Club in Washington. (Scott, 2/15)

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