Worried About Autism? 2 New Signs May or May Not Aid in Early Detection

Christie Haskell

Autism is a scary word to new and veteran parents alike. We've always heard in the past to watch for babies who don't make eye contact, don't enjoy interaction or interact with others, zone out on repetitive things like spinning a wheel, and so on. A new study says there are two things to look for in infants that, when combined, could be relatively accurate in predicting autism.

And with any study, I worry if it's more harmful to some to know the information or worse if they don't.

It was revealed that a 1-month-old could display early signs of autism -- 50 percent of babies in this study who were later diagnosed with autism showed abnormal muscle tone in their arms (too floppy or too stiff) and 40 percent didn't track items normally with their eyes.

These things can be so hard to detect that you may miss them altogether even if you're looking for them, or may require a doctor's trained eye to catch. So, not entirely helpful. I'm sure we'll have some scared new parents now obsessively waving toys in front of their newborn's face, chanting, "Track it! Track it! Look at the bear!" while trying to get the baby to do curls with their rattle. Well, maybe not quite, but I know it's hard to hear something like this and not at least take note.

All of the infants the researchers followed started out in the NICU, so a study following healthy newborns is needed to compare -- don't you think? A good majority of the babies who showed either trait also grew up without an autism diagnosis. So it's breaking news, but not ground-breaking ... yet. Regardless, it's another step towards trying to figure out this puzzle and start treatments or therapy as soon as possible. Maybe one day we can figure out ways to prevent autism -- or even have a cure.

Do you think releasing study results like this is helpful or just scares parents? Did your autistic child have either of these issues as an infant?


Image via amanda357/Cafemom

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