Another piece of the autism puzzle may be falling into place. Researchers at Yale think they've stumbled on a marker in the placenta that could diagnose the spectrum disorder earlier than ever before. And by early, they mean when a baby is first born.
Imagine, no more waiting until you notice something is off and then waiting for a diagnosis! It all sounds too good to be true.
Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
The lead doctor on the study says we don't yet have enough information for what he called a "definitive" autism test at birth. But when researchers looked at the placenta tissue from 117 children born to families who already had a child with autism and compared them to placentas from 100 babies born into families in which no older children had autism, they found what are being described as "abnormal structures" were much more common in the high risk group.
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If doctors can start examining placenta tissue and find those markers, that means they could get parents autism diagnoses earlier than the typical 3 or 4 years old. Even more importantly, that means parents could get their kids intervention services earlier.
It's those services, after all, that tend to make the biggest difference for kids on the spectrum. After all, there is no cure for autism, but therapies and assistive technologies help improve the quality of life for a kid on the spectrum. The earlier they start, the more effective those therapies can be, and the better quality of life you provide a child.
If these doctors can turn this into a test done in maternity wards across the nation (or heck, the world), they could change countless lives.
Would you have your placenta tissue tested if this went mainstream?
Image via Horia Varlan/Flickr