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Since 2005 the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been studying the size difference in the brain of a child with autism versus a child without autism. According to the study, children with autism have brains that are approximately 10% larger (at age 2) than their peers who do not have autism. The increase was not in thickness of what we call the “gray matter”, but rather in the folds of the surface area of the brain.
The children with autism continued to have enlarged brains when followed up at ages 4 and 5 with more magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It was determined that the children with autism still had enlarged brains, but the rate at which the brain was enlarging had not increased. The hope is to find out when the change in the brain actually starts to begin, and this study suggest that it is around the child’s first birthday. However, a recent study shows that autism my be detectable as early as four months. A few red flags to watch for in your newborn to age one can be found in this autism signs article.
The earlier autism is detected, the better the prognosis for the child. With the right professional care and the right therapies great improvements can be made for those on the middle to light end of the autism spectrum.
Remember, every child develops differently. No two children reach the exact same developmental milestone at the exact same time. Please, as we have stated before, do not rely on a five minute checklist on your pediatrician’s clip board to determine if you should have further screening for autism. You know your little bundle of joy better than anyone else on the planet. If you suspect for half a second that anything, no matter how minor, may be amiss-complete your due diligence. Personally scour out all the information you can, then make an informed decision to go to your doctor or pediatrician armed with information/questions and ready to advocate for your little one. Getting early detection could make all the difference. Thanks for reading!
Information on the study being conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can be found here.
Would you like to have more studies such as this? What type of information would you like to see covered in the future? Let us know!