New blood and urine tests can detect autism in children

New blood and urine tests can detect autism in children

Dr James Cusack, director of science at the United Kingdom autism research charity Autistica, said: "This study may give us clues about why autistic people are different but it does not provide a new method for diagnosis".

Their test, which delivers a result within four hours, is believed to pick up damage in the blood that mirrors brain problems linked to autistic symptoms.

They found autistic children have damage to the proteins in their blood plasma, caused by sugar and harmful molecules containing oxygen.

Autism is a condition that affects behavior, specifically social interaction.

As there is a wide range of ASD symptoms, diagnosis can be hard and uncertain, particularly at the early stages of development.

Max Davie from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who did not work on this study, also questions the validity of the data, pointing out, "The analysis was derived from children whose ages averaged 7-8, so there is no data to indicate that very young children will have the same metabolic pattern and that the results found would be reproducible in infants".

"The test is based on an optimum combination of markers of damage to protein in blood plasma".

New blood and urine tests have been developed by researchers at the University of Warwick that may indicate if a child has autism and thereby enable earlier administration of appropriate treatment.


The scientists worked with collaborators at the University of Bologna in Italy, who recruited 38 children with diagnosed ASD along with a control group of 31 children aged between five and 12.

Autism affects behaviour and particularly social interaction but it is hard to spot and is not usually diagnosed before the age of two, and often much later.

They found there were chemical differences between the two groups. As with many other conditions, genetics, environment, and other factors all play a role. The condition is undeniably complex, with many researchers recognizing the causes as rooted in an elusive combination of genetic variants and environmental factors.

They also confirmed the previously held belief that mutations of amino acid transporters are a genetic variant associated with ASD.

A mathematical equation was then developed to distinguish between the two groups, resulting in a diagnostic test considered to be better than other now available.

The team, whose findings have been published in Molecular Autism, hope that the tests could lead to earlier detection of ASD, so that affected children can receive treatment sooner.

She explained: "Early diagnosis in children [means they] will have better support and maybe earlier therapeutic intervention".

He said: "This attempt is weakened by a small sample size, possible overfitting of data and a lack of comparison groups. The best way to diagnose autism is still through clinical interview and observation". This study may give us clues about why autistic people are different but it does not provide a new method for diagnosis.

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