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Looking For Early Signs Of Autism In Brain Waves - featured June 3, 2011

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A technology that monitors electrical activity in the brain could help identify infants who will go on to develop autism, scientists say.

The technology, known as electroencephalography, or EEG, is also providing hints about precisely how autism affects the brain and which therapies are likely to help children with autism spectrum disorders.

"Right now, the earliest we can reliably identify a child is, say, 3 years of age," says Charles Nelson, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School. "Our work is designed to see [if we] can we do that in early infancy, long before any signs or symptoms of autism are apparent in the child's behavior."

If EEG lives up to its early promise, Nelson says, children with autism might start getting therapy before their first birthday.

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Tags: News of the Week Autism Newsletter 3 June 2011