MRIs show a brain anomaly in nearly 70 percent of babies at high risk of developing the condition who go on to be diagnosed, laying the groundwork for a predictive aid for pediatricians and the search for a potential treatment.
A national research network led by UNC School of Medicine’s Joseph Piven, MD, found that many toddlers diagnosed with autism at two years of age had a substantially greater amount of extra-axial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at six and 12 months of age, before diagnosis is possible. They also found that the more CSF at six months – as measured through MRIs – the more severe the autism symptoms were at two years of age.
“The CSF is easy to see on standard MRIs and points to a potential biomarker of autism before symptoms appear years later,” said Piven, co-senior author of the study, the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, and director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). “We also think this finding provides a potential therapeutic target for a subset of people with autism.”
The findings, published in Biological Psychiatry, point to faulty CSF flow as one of the possible causes of autism for a large subset of people.
Original story by Mark Derewicz.