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Quick Brain Scan Could Screen for Autism, but Skeptics have Questions - featured August 11, 2010

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(Reuters) - A 15-minute brain scan could in future be used to test for autism, helping doctors diagnose the complex condition more cheaply and accurately.

British scientists said on Tuesday their rapid test had proved more than 90 percent accurate in adults and there was no reason why it should not work equally well in children.

It could be a boon for patients and their doctors by reducing reliance on time-consuming and emotionally trying assessments based on interviews and behavioral observation.

Autism is a complex brain disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction and communication, ranging from mild to profound impairment.

The new scanning method -- which picks up on structural changes in the brain's grey matter -- could be ready for general use in a couple of years. The next goal is to test it in children.

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Tags: News of the Week Autism Newsletter 13 August 2010