By Stacy Whitman
Early detection of autism can make a world of difference in the treatment of kids with the mysterious brain disorder—and a simple five-minute screening test could help doctors spot it in babies as young as 12 months. In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, more than 10,000 infants were evaluated for signs of autism at their one-year check-up. Of the 184 kids who did not pass the test, 75 percent were later found to have some type of problem and 17 percent ended up being diagnosed with autism. As a result of the early screening, all were able to start treatment by about 19 months of age—years sooner than the average autistic child.
The bottom line: While more studies are needed before they become standard practice, early autism tests may be on the horizon. In the meantime, talk to your pediatrician if you see warning signs such as lack of eye contact and no big smiles.