TEEN BOARDING SCHOOLS
MRIs may help doctors diagnose autism in children
By Staff Writer
A method of brain imaging may help diagnose autism, according to a recent study.
Researchers from Massachusetts and Utah gave Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to 30 males, ages eight to 26 who are autistic, as well as 30 males who were healthy. The males with autism showed differences in the white matter circuitry in two regions of the brain's temporal lobe: the superior temporal gyrus and the temporal stem.
Those regions are associated with language, emotion and social skills. Based on the differences in brain circuitry, researchers were able to distinguish the patients who had autism and those who did not with 94 percent accuracy.
The results of the study could alter the way autism is diagnosed in children. Currently, there is no biological test for the disorder. Doctors typically provide a diagnosis after asking questions about the child's behavior and language, and through observing the patient.
Researchers cautioned that the first crop of MRI tests are preliminary, and added that the imaging must be confirmed with a larger group of patients before it is widely accepted as a valid testing method.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of one in 110 children in the U.S. are autistic.