Researchers have figured out how to measure a baby’s risk of developing autism just by looking at their placenta when they’re born.
Findings in the April 25 online issue of Biological Psychiatry shows that the Yale School of Medicine has found a way to look for abnormalities in the placenta of a newborn, which means earlier diagnosis will be a possibility leading to earlier treatment of the developmental disorder.
A new report out of La Trobe University this year found that the average age of children being diagnosed with autism in Australia is four years and one month. Researchers found that less than three per cent are being identified with the developmental disorder by the age of two. The delay means children don't get help early enough.
"Senior author Dr. Harvey Kliman, research scientist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, and research collaborators at the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, have found that abnormal placental folds and abnormal cell growths called trophoblast inclusions are key markers to identify newborns who are at risk for autism," YaleNews says.
The study, Markers of Autism Risk in Babies-Learning Early Signs. looked at placentas from infants from families where there is risk of autism and compared them to placentas from infants where there are no risk factors for autism.
What they found was that the placentas from the at-risk pool had a much higher probability of being susceptible to signs of autism.
At the moment the best way to determine if a child may have autism is through family history. Reports have shown that a couple who have a child with autism are nine times more likely to have another child with the disorder. However, if there is no previous family history early detection is hard.
“I hope that diagnosing the risk of developing autism by examining the placenta at birth will become routine, and that the children who are shown to have increased numbers of trophoblast inclusions will have early interventions and an improved quality of life as a result of this test,” Kliman told YaleNews.