Could a Blood Test Detect Autism?

May 7, 2013 11:27:28 AM PDT

A simple blood test might be able to reveal whether a child has autism, according to researchers who recently launched a study to evaluate such a test.

The study, which began this week and involves 660 participants at 20 facilities around the United States, will examine whether the test can accurately distinguish between children who have autism and children who have other developmental delays, the researchers said.

While the blood test by itself cannot diagnose an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the researchers hope it will speed up the time it takes to diagnose the condition, which can be a lengthy process.

"If a blood test could indicate ASD risk, it would help families and physicians know when to refer children to an ASD expert, potentially leading to earlier treatment and better outcomes," Dr. Jeremy Veenstra VanderWeele, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, said in a statement.

The study is being funded by SynapDx, the company that hopes to develop and market the test.

Autism spectrum disorders are a range of developmental disorders characterized by social impairment, language difficulties and repetitive behaviors. Currently, ASD is diagnosed by evaluating a person's behavior and taking into account their medical history.

The new test could provide an objective marker for autism that would be used in conjunction with clinical evaluation, the researchers said. The test looks at gene expression — whether a gene is "turned on" or not — and is aimed at distinguishing between children who have autism and those who don't.

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Posted in Medical News By Terri Mykland

Newborn blood may reveal early signs of autism

November 27, 2012 12:06:56 PM PST

Children diagnosed with autism tend to have low blood levels of several immune molecules at birth, according to an epidemiological study published in August in the Journal of Immunology

Studies have found differences in the immunological profiles of children and adults with autism, as well as in the mothers of children with autism during pregnancy, but only a handful of studies have examined this issue in newborns.

“There’s something altered about the immune status of these offspring that’s different from [that of typical] children,” says Paul Patterson, professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the study.

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Posted in Medical News By Terri Mykland