New blood, urine tests can determine autism in children


One in in 68 children have been identified with some form of ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014.

Autism spectrum disorders, such as Asperger syndrome, mainly affect a person's social interaction and communication, with symptoms including speech disturbances, compulsive behaviour, hyperactivity and anxiety.

Researchers have studied blood samples from children with autism and compared those with samples from healthy children.

"Our discovery could lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention", Dr Naila Rabbani, the leader of the study, said in a statement.

Rabbani hopes that the tests can also eventually show what factors cause autism, leading to improved diagnosis. With further testing we may reveal specific plasma and urinary profiles or "fingerprints" of compounds with damaging modifications.

James Cusack, director of science at the United Kingdom autism research charity Autistica, said, "This study may give us clues about why autistic people are different but it does not provide a new method for diagnosis".

The research has been published in the journal Molecular Autism.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one in 68 children in the U.S. are affected by autism - which is more than four times more common among boys.

With the help of an artificial intelligence (AI)-developed algorithm, the team figured out how the two groups were chemically different. Children with ASD were found to have higher levels of an oxidation marker known as dityrosine (DT) and a compound called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

The tests could lead to earlier detection of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and consequently children with autism could receive appropriate treatment much earlier in their lives. Now the only way to diagnose the condition is through behavioral assessments, and most children aren't identified as autistic until after the age of four.

At present, identifying autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is hard but this test could lead to earlier diagnosis of the condition in children and therefore earlier treatment. No biological procedure to help detect the condition, usually diagnosed through behavioural assessments.

Genetic causes are thought to be responsible for around a third of cases, with the remainder believed to be caused by environmental factors, mutations or rare genetic variants.

The test could be offered at well-equipped hospitals which do not already have high level expertise in neurological disorders, she said. The idea is somewhat similar - you find the differences in the brains of ASD sufferers and feed them into an algorithm which then predicts autism incidence. The study also only looked at a small group of people.

Dr James Cusack, director of science at Autistica, says: "There have been several attempts at developing biomarkers for autism, none of which have been particularly successful".