Scientists are buzzing about new technology that could help diagnose autism in children earlier than ever before.
New York-based LinusBio created a test that analyzes a single hair for mercury, lead, and aluminum levels. All of these are higher in children with autism.
Researchers tested the technology in a recent study using hair samples collected from 486 children in Japan, Sweden and the United States. It was shown to accurately predict failure 81% of the time.
In a recent NBC interview, LinusBio co-founder Manish Arora said, “You can detect the distinct rhythms of autism in just about a centimeter of hair.
Currently, children with autism are diagnosed around the age of four. The company hopes to identify autism early, before children start missing developmental milestones.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 44 children aged 8 has autism.
Even the Food and Drug Administration is calling the study a “breakthrough.” This is a designation intended to facilitate the testing and approval process for medical devices or tests.
“This technology is incredibly novel. The use of hair and the kind of measurements they’re doing with hair is revolutionary,” says Andrea, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University who was not involved in the research. Dr. Baccarelli told NBC. “It’s groundbreaking.”
A study analyzing technology company tests was published last month in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
The LinusBio test is not intended to be dependent on itself, but serves as a tool for clinicians to ascertain what children have been exposed to, such as metals and other substances that stick to human hair. increase.
LinusBio’s research focused on environmental factors that may contribute to the development of autism. More specifically, they realized that children, even infants, can tell what substances and toxins they’ve been exposed to over time.
Previous studies have linked substances such as lead, arsenic, copper, selenium, iron and magnesium to the disorder. Scientists are still racking their brains as to why this is the case, but both environmental exposure and genetics are suspected to play a role.
With the initial success of the test, the developers are now expanding the study to 2,000 participants. But researchers not involved in the study say parents should be cautiously optimistic.
“There is certainly much work to be done before concluding that this test is a valid measure of risk for autism spectrum disorders,” says Scott Myers, M.D., a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at the Geisinger Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute. told NBC.