Scientists take a step closer to more effective autism testing

February 20th, 2018
Scientists take a step closer to more effective autism testing

Scientists have taken a major step forward in the quest to find more effective tests for autism. Researchers claim to have taken the first steps in a bid to use blood and urine tests as a means of diagnosing autism in children.

The study, which was led by the University of Warwick’s Dr Naila Rabbani, involved analysing blood and urine samples to look for chemical differences between samples taken from autistic children and children who had not been diagnosed with autism. The findings, which have been published in the Molecular Autism Journal, show that there were higher levels of protein damage in samples taken from children with autism in comparison to those without autism. The distinction in levels was most notable in the blood plasma.

The study involved a total of 69 children. This group included 38 children with autism as well as 31 children without autism. The children were all aged between 5 and 12 years old. Dr Rabbani explained that the findings of the study could be used to develop more effective testing and diagnostic procedures in the future.

Currently, there are no “biological tests” that are used to diagnose autism, and most cases are diagnosed at a relatively late stage as a result of investigations carried out on the basis of behaviour. Autism affects the way children behave and it can also impact social interaction and in most cases, a diagnosis is made long after parents or health workers start to notice differences in a child’s behaviour.

Dr Rabbani stated that the results of the tests were interesting, and added that further research in this area would be incredibly useful. The next step is to repeat the testing procedures and the team is keen to involve younger children the next time around before working with a larger group of children. Eventually, it is hoped that the findings could be used to develop more tests, which will help doctors to reach an accurate diagnosis sooner.

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