Scientists Find Possible Biomarker for Autism
A recent study showed a potential link between cerebrospinal fluid levels and autism risk—possibly the first marker for the condition. Autism spectrum disorders affect about 1 in 68 children and early intervention is often key. If this discovery is proven through addition research, it may allow for earlier autism diagnoses.
Cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, protects the brain within the skull and also filters byproducts of brain metabolism. That is, CSF removes toxic substances—inflammatory proteins, for example—produced in the brain by replenishing itself approximately four times per day. In an earlier small study, infants who later developed autism had significantly more cerebrospinal fluid than those who did not develop the condition.
This new study enrolled 343 babies, 221 of whom were considered at increased risk for autism because of family history. During the study period, researchers performed MRI scans to measure cerebral spinal fluid at regular intervals. At two years of age, 47 of the children were diagnosed with autism. According to researchers, brain scans performed when the children were six months old showed that babies who later were diagnosed with autism had 18 percent more CSF than those who did not.
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