A simple brain trace can identify autism in children as young as two years old, scientists believe.
A US team at Boston Children’s Hospital say EEG traces, which record electrical brain activity using scalp electrodes, could offer a diagnostic test for this complex condition.
EEG clearly distinguished children with autism from other peers in a trial involving nearly 1,000 children.
Experts say more work is needed to confirm the BMC Medicine study results.
There are more than 500,000 people with autism in the UK.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that it is not a single condition and will affect individuals in different ways.
Commonly, people with autism have trouble with social interaction and can appear locked in their own worlds.
It can be a difficult condition to diagnose and can go undetected for years.
The latest study found 33 specific EEG patterns that appeared to be linked to autism.
These patterns consistently spotted autism in children across a range of age groups, spanning from two to 12 years old.
Hallmark brain activity
The researchers repeated their analysis 10 times, splitting up their study group (children with a medical diagnosis of autism and children with no signs of autism) in different ways.
Around 90% of the time, the EEG patterns could correctly detect the children diagnosed with autism.
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