27 Jan 2012

Test for autism at early stages in the offing

9:05 pm on 27 January 2012

Medical researchers say differences in babies' brainwaves may soon allow them to diagnose autism at a much earlier age.

Autism is usually spotted between the first and second birthdays but a new study suggests it may be possible to detect it as early as six months, allowing for intervention before the onset of full symptoms.

Older children with autism tend to show a lack of eye contact so babies in the study were shown pictures of people's faces that switched between looking at, or looking away, from the baby.

At the same time researchers studied brain activity and found babies that did not develop autism show a large difference in brainwaves depending on which photo they were shown.

There was a much smaller difference in the brainwaves of babies who went on to develop autism.

One in every 100 children is believed to be born with autism and the condition affects more boys than girls, the BBC reports.