NEW STATISTICS SHOW AUTISM AFFECTS ONE IN 88 CHILDREN IN THE U-S.
CATCHING IT EARLY IS KEY IN TREATING THE PROBLEM.
NOW, SPECIAL IMAGING MAY HELP DETECT AUTISM SOONER THAN EVER BEFORE.
GRACIE GOES EVERYWHERE BIG BROTHER SETH GOES.
BUT HER PARENTS HOPE GRACIE DOESN'T FOLLOW IN SETH'S FOOTSTEPS WHEN IT COMES TO ONE THING: SETH HAS AUTISM.
"I was concerned about it."
SIBLINGS HAVE A ONE IN FIVE CHANCE OF DEVELOPING AUTISM. SO GRACIE WAS ENROLLED IN A ONE-OF-A-KIND STUDY.
U-N-C RESEARCHERS USED A SPECIAL KIND OF M-R-I IMAGING CALLED - DIFFUSION TENSOR IMAGING - TO LOOK AT 15 BRAIN CONNECTIONS OF BABIES WHO HAD A SIBLING WITH AUTISM. THEY FOUND SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES IN 12 OF THE 15 CONNECTIONS IN THOSE WHO DEVELOPED AUTISM. KIDS WITHOUT THE DISORDER HAVE STRONGER CONNECTIONS ILLUSTRATED HERE BY THE BRIGHT COLORS. THIS SCAN SHOWS A WEAKER CONNECTION - WHICH KIDS WITH AUTISM ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE.
"The children who went on to have autism, we can see differences as early as six months, and that over time, their brains changed less."
RIGHT NOW, IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DIAGNOSE AUTISM AT SIX MONTHS. THESE SCANS COULD OFFER A WAY TO CATCH IT MUCH EARLIER.
"This is really before we can pick up any differences behaviorally."
"If we could go earlier and earlier in our interventions, we could prevent autism from fully manifesting."
GRACIE SEEMS TO BE DEVELOPING NORMALLY. A RELIEF TO HER PARENTS WHO SAY THEIR LITTLE GIRL IS A BIG PART OF HELPING SETH DEAL WITH HIS DISORDER.
"We can't imagine where Seth would be if it wasn't for Gracie."
DOCTOR WOLFF SAYS THE IMAGING COULD ONE DAY BE USED WITH BEHAVIORAL EXAMS - WHICH ARE THE CURRENT STANDARD - TO BETTER DIAGNOSE AUTISM.
THE HOPE IS TO CATCH IT BEFORE SIGNS START TO SHOW. A RECENT STUDY PUBLISHED IN PEDIATRICS FOUND WHEN CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS 18 MONTHS UNDERWENT THERAPY FOR AUTISM, THEIR I-Q IMPROVED BY 14 POINTS COMPARED TO OTHER KIDS WITH AUTISM.