Research suggests autism may be spotted earlier
Doctors may be able to spot autism when a baby is just months old.
Autism affects one in 88 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 18 percent of children are diagnosed by age three, but most are not diagnosed until after their fourth birthday.
The research today indicates that with training and technology, doctors can spot it sooner and intervene earlier.
The research comes from the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where they tracked eye movements of infants at risk for autism - like those who had an older sibling with the condition. Those children were then compared to babies with no risk factors.
Researchers used special technology over months to track infant eye movement. They found the babies eventually diagnosed with autism held eye contact less and less as they aged. Eye contact plays a key role in social development and declining attention to the eyes of others could one of the first signs of the condition.