Groundbreaking new research could lead to early diagnosis of autism

(NBC NEWS) – Brain scans of babies may be able to detect which children will be diagnosed with autism, according to new research.

Researchers at multiple sites across the United States and Canada studied MRI scans of babies at age six months and 12 months.

Some had older siblings with autism and were considered high-risk.

Eighty percent of the time, researchers were able to identify which babies would be diagnosed with autism by age two by looking at differences in brain volume among those high-risk children.

Autism is generally diagnosed between ages two and four.

Kerry Keller’s oldest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. She now has three more boys. Each was at a higher risk for the disorder.

Her youngest son took part in the study.

“It’s pretty exciting, as far as I’m concerned it’s the first study that I’ve seen that like actually produces some hope,” Keller said. “So for children like my Padric who’s the youngest of four boys and the oldest has Autism, I mean that would be great if he were an infant and we had something we could go to that ‘we will follow your child through these scans and developmental tests,’ and then be able to get you the earliest intervention we can if we see markers for Autism, that’s amazing.”

Hear from one of the researchers who conducted the study, tonight on NBC Nightly News.

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