A new study led by Dr. Frank H. Duffy at Boston Children’s Hospital suggests that a procedure known as EEG — electroencephalogram — might detect autism in children as young as two years old. The study was published today in BMC Medicine.
An EEG uses small metal discs — like the ones in the illustration to the right — with thin wires to track and record brain wave patterns. The test is often used to identify seizure and sleep disorders as well as behavior changes.
While autism symptoms vary per child, 460 of the children with autism studied showed similar electrical brain activity. The similarities among those with autism were different than the patterns of 570 unaffected children who were part of the study.
“This is a very stable, identifiable group, easily differentiable from normal subjects,” Duffy, director of developmental neurophysiology at Children’s, and an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, told the blog CommonHealth.
Duffy hopes that future EEG studies also will provide more answers regarding Asperger’s, which is considered a condition “on the autism spectrum.” Duffy told CommonHealth that he suspects that Asperger’s may actually be a separate condition.