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Doctors May Be Able to Predict Autism Risk Much Earlier

About one in 68 children born in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the developmental disorder that affects a number of brain functions—most notably children’s ability to socialize and communicate. Because the first signs of autism aren’t obvious until children start talking and interacting with others, doctors can’t definitively diagnose the condition until babies are about two years old, when language and social skills start to emerge.

Experts say that may be too late in terms of treating or minimizing the effects of autism, since whatever brain changes responsible for them have already taken place. However, a new report in the journal Nature may give worried parents new hope.