Autism Information

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brain Overgrowth In One-year-olds Linked To Development Of Autism

According to a new research, brain overgrowth in the latter part of an infant's first year may contribute to the onset of autistic characteristics. These findings support concurrent research which has found brain overgrowth in autistic children as young as two years old.

Lead researcher Joseph Piven, M.D., Director of the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an ACNP member, says that behavioral studies of infants at high risk for autism suggest that the onset of most behavioral symptoms which define the disorder, such as problems with and social interaction, also occur at about age one. "One reason these findings are important is because early post-natal onset raises the possibility that there may be a window for early treatment and prevention that could be identified by future studies," Piven says.

In normal brain development, neuronal connections are eliminated through a process called "pruning." This process refines normal brain connections and increases the efficiency of remaining connections in the brain. Piven says one possibility is that there is less pruning in children with autism and therefore, their brains become larger than in children without autism.

The researchers are not yet sure though and are still going to put more time into the study.


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