Could Brain Fluid Provide an Earlier Diagnosis of Autism?

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Children with learning or developmental disorders, such as autism, who receive a diagnosis earlier have a better chance of getting the resources and personalized education to help them succeed.
However, the disorder can present in subjective ways, so an objective measurement could help diagnose children even younger.
Autism spectrum disorder affects about 1 in 59 children, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.
Earlier this year, researchers at Stanford University published research that concluded that low levels of the hormone vasopressin in a child’s cerebrospinal fluid could help researchers predict a child’s chance of developing autism.
But new research suggests that merely having an elevated level of the protective fluid around the brain could point to clues that might ultimately help diagnose autism earlier in life.
The latest study, published last month in The Lancet Psychiatry and funded by the National Institutes of Health, was conducted by researchers at the University of California at Davis MIND Institute and the University of North Carolina.
Researchers said they found that an increased amount of extra-axial cerebrospinal fluid was associated with a diagnosis of autism in young children.
Researchers say cerebrospinal fluid was once considered a benign substance that merely protected the brain from shock, such as in the case of a concussion.
But further research suggests the fluid plays a much greater role in the brain, namely acting as a way for the brain to clean out potentially harmful molecules. It does this mostly while we sleep.