Could blood and urine tests detect autism?

Image Pavel L

Image Pavel L

Dr. Naila Rabbani of England's University of Warwick led the study and told Gizmodo, "Our test is expected to improve the accuracy of ASD diagnosis from 60-70 percent now achieved by experts in neurological disorders to approximately 90 percent accuracy and potentially offered at all well-equipped hospitals with or without high level expertise in neurological disorders".

The research uncovered a link between ASD and damage to proteins in blood plasma. Dr. Rabbani hopes that further testing will reveal more potentially damaging compounds, which will help "improve diagnosis of ASD and point the way to new causes".

ASD cases are characterized by a wide variety of symptoms that can range from mild behavioral issues to debilitating compulsive behavior, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and much more.

The researchers took blood and urine samples for analysis from 38 children with ASD and 31 children in the control group and found there were chemical differences between the two groups. "We hope the tests will also reveal new causative factors", said Dr Naila Rabbani, who led the study.

Autism mainly affects a person's social interactions and how they communicate.

The researchers in their study, tested children with and without the condition, leading to finding higher levels of protein damage in those with the disorder. Indeed, the researchers suggest that while a combination of genetic causes, environmental factors, and rare genetic variants are known to be causes of autism, the tests could reveal other causes we now don't know about. The condition is undeniably complex, with many researchers recognizing the causes as rooted in an elusive combination of genetic variants and environmental factors.

But experts say this type of test is still a long way off, because many more studies are needed to confirm these results. They found children with ASD had higher levels of the oxidation marker dityrosine and certain sugar-modified compounds called "advanced glycation endproducts" in the protein.

Using an algorithm to sift through the data, the team said their results were better than any method now available to detect ASD, being up to about 90 percent accurate. It is far too early for that. Educational programs are the primary treatment for autism and research shows, the earlier a child with autism starts treatment the better success they will have.

In particular, Cusack pointed to the very small sample size used in the study. It is hard to diagnose and is not detectable before 2-year-old. By having subjects as young as toddlers who are two years of age tested, parents become better prepared to deal with the ensuing hardships to follow.

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