Autism is never an easy diagnosis to hear for a parent, as it means their child may face some insurmountable hardships in life. Current practices now allow us to detect autism in children as young as two years old, but this number could change to one soon.
According to Telethon Kids Institute researchers, 3-D face scanning technology may help us detect autism in children as young as one.
In a study, 3-D face scanning technology is used to scan the faces of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and also their siblings and parents to provide insights into ASD and earlier detection.
Recent studies have found that there are small facial anomalies connected to autism.
“So we’re recruiting children between the ages of nine and 15 months who have already been identified as showing warning signs and we’re obtaining facial images from these children,” comented Telethon Kids Institute researcher Dr Gail Alvares.
“We’ll be following them up over the next few years to see which of those children will go on to develop autism.”
“What we found is that boys who haven’t been diagnosed with autism prior to puberty actually have more masculine faces,” Dr Alvares observed.
“So the more testosterone you are exposed to as a foetus relates to how masculine your face is in your adult life, that and that’s across males and females,” she says.
Dr Alvares notes a theory that higher levels of testosterone may have some effect on changing brain development in utero.
The Telethon researchers hope to compile a wider database of faces of which will include people who do not have ASD.