Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

.Scanning Babies for Autism

Posted by on May. 24, 2010 at 10:50 PM
  • 26 Replies

By taking scans of sleeping children, researchers are discovering what occurs in the brains of babies and young children with autism.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to peer at images of the children's brains, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, found that autistic children as young as 14 months use different brain regions than youngsters with more typical development when hearing bedtime stories.

The findings suggest that even very early on, the brains of those with autism work differently than typical babies. They also help explain why failure of language comprehension is a "red flag" for babies with autism, according to the study's author, Eric Courchesne, director of the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence.

[LAB] Getty Images

The brains of babies with autism function differently.

Facts About Autism

  • Autism affects about 1 in 110 children and is characterized by sometimes-severe social impairment and problems with language.
  • The condition has puzzled researchers; its cause or causes are not clear.
  • A new study found that when babies and toddlers with autism process language, only their right brain is active. Their typically developing peers use both right and left regions of the brain.
  • Researchers theorize that the two sides of autistic brains don't communicate well, and the right side compensates for lack of activity in the left.
  • Autism is usually diagnosed at 2 or 3 years old.

Source: WSJ reporting

The small study of 43 subjects, believed to be the first to examine the brains of young children with autism and related disorders, was presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia last week.

This type of work "is going to tell us an awful lot about how the brain goes wrong in the first place and then gives us insight into how we'll be able to help at an earlier age," says Dr. Courchesne.

Learning when and where brain changes occur can also help rule out some suspected causes of autism. For instance, if brain differences are already present at birth, then environmental toxins or vaccine exposure in childhood can't be responsible, according to Dr. Courchesne.

Regular MRIs examine the structure of the brain, but by asking subjects to perform a task in the scanner, an fMRI can examine brain function through blood flow and response in response to neural activity. Unlike X-rays, they don't use radiation.

But scientists have had trouble figuring out how to get young children to lie still in the noisy, claustrophobic brain scanners. The UCSD group came up with a solution: Put babies and children in the scanner in the wee hours of the night when they are naturally asleep.

For their study, the researchers first had to find children with autism-spectrum disorders. UCSD recruited 150 pediatricians in and around San Diego to screen 16,000 babies to find nearly 100 who appeared to their doctors to have autism or related disorders.

The researchers brought 23 young children ranging from age 13 months to nearly 4 years old with autism-spectrum disorders, and 20 typically developing kids to the lab at nighttime when the children were already asleep.

While the children were in the scanner, researchers played a repeating tape of a female voice reading a bedtime story and the scanner recorded the children's brain activity. (Dr. Courchesne's lab has shown in a separate, published study of older children that even when children sleep, they hear and react to language.)

This study showed that in the typically developing babies, both the right and left temporal regions of the brain—parts that help us understand different aspects of language—were activated. In older children, there was evidence that the left side became even more active compared with the right side.

But in the babies and children with autism-spectrum disorders the use of the right brain was far stronger.

The left temporal region of the brain usually deals with understanding the meaning of words, in a "dictionary" manner, he says. The right side helps us understand social language based on context, like how people sound when they are angry rather than happy, even if they're speaking the same words.

One theory is that in autism, the right side is needed to learn the basic definitions of words, crowding out the ability to develop skills to process more social, nuanced aspects of language, Dr. Courchesne says.

The research could one day help clinicians diagnose children more reliably and younger than 2 or 3 years old, the age when they currently are consistently diagnosed, according to David Mandell, a psychiatry and pediatrics professor at University of Pennsylvania and scientific chair of the autism meeting, who wasn't involved with the study

The Return of the SNARKY MOM's







No application reuired!

by on May. 24, 2010 at 10:50 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
maciymommieof3
by on May. 24, 2010 at 10:51 PM

NOw were talking...this is the reasearch we really need.

maciymommieof3
by on May. 24, 2010 at 10:52 PM

The left temporal region of the brain usually deals with understanding the meaning of words, in a "dictionary" manner, he says. The right side helps us understand social language based on context, like how people sound when they are angry rather than happy, even if they're speaking the same words.

carolasaya
by on May. 24, 2010 at 10:58 PM
and which one is the one we don't need?
Quoting maciymommieof3:

NOw were talking...this is the reasearch we really need.


barefootNky113
by Bronze Member on May. 24, 2010 at 10:58 PM

 i would never do that to my babies. MRI's are not fun. My son had one on for 2 weeks straight. screw that. why can't people just love their kids for who they are and not always worry about having a medical name for the way they are? My son died undiagnosed... i loved him more than anything... and i will always love him for who he was... and not always worry about what was his diagnosis...

I sit backwards cause I'm a BIG GURL! landynI may not be with you, but you've got to hold on...

maciymommieof3
by on May. 24, 2010 at 11:02 PM

vaccines...right? they blew that one out of the water ....

Quoting carolasaya:

and which one is the one we don't need?
Quoting maciymommieof3:

NOw were talking...this is the reasearch we really need.



The Return of the SNARKY MOM's







No application reuired!

maciymommieof3
by on May. 24, 2010 at 11:05 PM

Well for one...if they are not dx'd and you just let them go...they will fall behind, likely to be picked on.....and not be successful at all.....gotta know what they have in order to help them be the best they can be.....Do you think I was REALLY LOOKING FOR A LABEL? You think I want my children to have the stigma of a dx of Autism? NO....No freakin way...but do you think I am going to sit there and let them fall behind, get made fun of, get bullied? NOT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Quoting barefootNky113:

 i would never do that to my babies. MRI's are not fun. My son had one on for 2 weeks straight. screw that. why can't people just love their kids for who they are and not always worry about having a medical name for the way they are? My son died undiagnosed... i loved him more than anything... and i will always love him for who he was... and not always worry about what was his diagnosis...


The Return of the SNARKY MOM's







No application reuired!

barefootNky113
by Bronze Member on May. 24, 2010 at 11:10 PM

 YOU THINK I WANTED MY SON NOT TO BE DIAGNOSED! YOU THINK I WANTED HIM TO LOOSE 5 LBS WHEN HE WAS 3 MONTHS OLD! ESCUSE YOU! YOU HAVE NO IDEA... YOU BETTER CALM YOUR SELF... My son did NOT have a diagnosis and he STILL was behind! he still lost weight! He still stopped eating. He stopped opening his eyes! he still had to get a g-tube! he still  was 3 months old and not ONCE held his head up on his own! and guess what! HE STILL DIED!!!! nothing would have changed that. not a diagnosis. not anything! so don't you preach to me about your problems when i assure you... they are NOTHING compared to mine. don't ask for opinions if you don't freaking want them!

Quoting maciymommieof3:

Well for one...if they are not dx'd and you just let them go...they will fall behind, likely to be picked on.....and not be successful at all.....gotta know what they have in order to help them be the best they can be.....Do you think I was REALLY LOOKING FOR A LABEL? You think I want my children to have the stigma of a dx of Autism? NO....No freakin way...but do you think I am going to sit there and let them fall behind, get made fun of, get bullied? NOT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Quoting barefootNky113:

 i would never do that to my babies. MRI's are not fun. My son had one on for 2 weeks straight. screw that. why can't people just love their kids for who they are and not always worry about having a medical name for the way they are? My son died undiagnosed... i loved him more than anything... and i will always love him for who he was... and not always worry about what was his diagnosis...

 

 

I sit backwards cause I'm a BIG GURL! landynI may not be with you, but you've got to hold on...

glitterteaz
by on May. 24, 2010 at 11:10 PM

 Interesting article I hope they find the cure they are looking for...right now it seems witch hunt for the cause. I think there is multiple factors but I think alot has to do with biology/genes.

Limolover
by on May. 24, 2010 at 11:11 PM

I'd be worried about radiating a child's brain...AND of the medication needed to sedate the infant for this test. Is it really worth the risks?

carolasaya
by on May. 24, 2010 at 11:12 PM
yeap, they did.
(not that I agree with them, I still believe those vaccines are responsible for most of the illnesses) and thanks for responding.
Quoting maciymommieof3:


Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)