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Shari Roan’s blog at the L A Times notes research published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.
Researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and the University of Delaware have observed 25 6-month-old infants who were siblings of children with autism. (Siblings are at much higher risk of developing the disease.)
These infants were compared with 25 infants from families with no history of autism.
The infants were observed performing a task that measures their ability to learn, and their level of social engagement with a caregiver.
Researchers found that infants in the low-risk group were more likely to have normal social gazing: they looked at their caregivers, pointed to toys and became excited as they played.
The high-risk siblings, though, spent less time looking at caregivers and more time focused on the toy.
The two groups did not differ in how well they learned the game being played with the caregiver.
Authors are A N Bhat, J C Galloway and R J Landa.
Landa says the study provides more evidence for early diagnosis, and that the lack of interest in people’s faces is “a subtle difference that could be easily overlooked by both parents and some professionals.
for access to the complete journal article : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02262.x/abstract. For Roan’s 9/2 LA Times blog post, find it at http://www.latimes.com .
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