Babies born to mothers who took
antidepressants early in their
pregnancy are approximately three
times more likely to develop autism.

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Clues for Early Detection of Autism

February 5, 2014

A newborn infant is known to respond from birth to human communication in faces and voices.  There is a basic predisposition to watch these social interactions.  Researchers have looked into using this as a clue to early diagnosis of autism, i.e., when a six-month-old infant looks away when being spoken to. reported that a study published in Biological Psychiatry by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine, found a good method of examining for autism in very young infants by the use of eye tracking. The researchers used video tracking of the infant’s eyes to determine where they were looking and for how long as they were shown pictures of people talking, smiling or still faces. Since autism is generally diagnosed after two years of age, the researchers again assessed the test group children at three years of age.

The study found that "infants who later developed ASD [autism spectrum disorder] not only looked at all faces less than other infants, but also, when shown a face that was speaking, looked away from key facial features such as the eyes and mouth."

According to Dr. Frederick Shic, one of the researchers, "This is the first study to isolate an atypical response to speech as a specific characteristic in the first half year after birth that is associated with later emerging ASD."

Hopefully, as this news article suggests, this research could lead to "targeted interventions that could normalize their developmental processes."

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