Canadian researchers found a way of better diagnosing autism in children that display symptoms of the disease through a couple of genetic tests.
People affected by autism are impaired on emotional level, so their social, and communications skills are also affected. In the most severe cases, autistic patients are trapped in their own worlds.
In the world, one percent of the population is affected by the disorder, but the figure may be much higher since many live with the condition without knowing it.
In the U.S., one in 68 kids lives with the condition. Yet, diagnosing autism is both challenging and tricky because symptoms vary a lot. That’s whyin the scientific literature the disorder is referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Until now, doctors used several tests that looked at how a child communicates and acts within a group to tell whether he or she is autistic. But, researchers think that a more accurate testing is a DNA test.
A research team from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children in Canada found that two genetic tests may help identify the genes that are responsible for the neurological disorder.
They published a paper on their findings this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The study involved over 250 volunteers that were suspected to have ASD. Melissa Blundon, the mother of one of the children involved in the study, recalls that her son displayed ASD symptoms from early age.
“He was walking; he didn’t talk.”
Researchers found that two genetic tests called chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) and whole-exome sequencing (WES) revealed that 16 percent of children had autism. Taken separately, the tests could only detect autism in eight, respectively 9 percent of cases.
The CMA test maps the child’s DNA and looks for the altered genes that are linked to autism. The WES test sifts through the genetic data in search for small imperfections. All study participants underwent CMA, but five percent didn’t undergo WES.
Researchers hope that the two tests may make parents and children’s lives a lot easier. Children will receive proper care, while parents will know what’s wrong with their less social children.
Study authors explained that children are not diagnosed for years, so they lack vital support in early age. For their parent, genetic testing coulf help them decide whether their children are able to go to school or not. One of the tests is currently available but just in Canada.
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