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Algorithm Detects Autism in Infants


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A newborn.

Though the findings still need to be confirmed with further studies, if red flags for autism could be spotted in a child's earliest days, pediatricians and parents could be put on alert and therapies quickly started.

Credit: Dejan Ristovski/Stocksy United

Duke University researchers trained an algorithm on the electronic medical records of 45,000 children to detect signs of autism in infants.

The algorithm predicts which babies would become autistic, differentiating them from those who developed attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Duke's Matthew Engelhard said the researchers focused on the model's performance in groups of children that traditional screening methods often miss, including girls, children of color, and children with combined autism/ADHD diagnoses.

Duke's Geraldine Dawson said a computer collecting information as a child receives healthcare could alert a pediatrician that an autism diagnosis is more likely "based on the child's pattern of utilization."

From USA Today
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