crying babyThese days, pretty much every parent is on the lookout for possible signs of autism in their babies, and now it looks as though there may be another early clue to watch out for.

Scientists at Brown University have determined that a baby's cry may be linked to a risk of developing autism, based on a study they conducted where they compared the ways different cries sounded.

Research was done on 40 different babies who were all video taped at the age of 6 months. And their findings were pretty interesting -- 21 of the babies had higher pitched cries, which put them into the "at-risk" category because the cries show that their vocal chords are more tense than low-risk infants.

And even more shocking is that the three babies in the group who had the highest pitched cries all went on to be diagnosed with autism.

Ok, so I'm sure you're wondering what tipped off researchers that a possible link could exist between autism and crying. Well, children with autism typically make atypical sounds, so they thought maybe there would be a difference in cries early on. Also, cries are associated with brain development, so researchers figured it was worth a shot to test things out.

And they're definitely expecting a bit of a panic as a result of this study, because the lead author on the case, Stephen Sheinkopf, said, "We definitely don’t want parents to be anxiously listening to their babies cry. It’s unclear if the human ear is sensitive enough to detect this."

That's all well and good, but it's easier said than done, buddy. How is any parent reading this going to avoid having their ears perk up to look for discrepancies in their baby's cry every time they wake up screaming in the middle of the night from here on out? If I had an infant, I'd probably be a lot more in tune after hearing about this possible link.

But at the same time, if we obsess and freak out every time our babies let out a higher pitched cry, we'll go insane -- so heeding the warning not to panic is probably best.

If nothing else, we should see this study as a good thing, because it has the potential to help diagnose kids with autism earlier, which leads to them receiving treatment earlier, and so on and so forth.

Will this information make you more likely to pay attention to how your baby's cry sounds?

 

Image via bbaunach/Flickr