Autism spectrum disorder affects nearly 1.5% of children. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of the disorder is difficult and relies on multidisciplinary medics. Although past research has shown distinct metabolic processes in children who suffer from the disorder, they have not previously been looked at in diagnosis.
Scientists Daniel Howsmon, Juergen Hahn and colleagues have successfully developed an accurate diagnostic technique for children centred on blood sampling. The technique identifies constituents in the blood produced by metabolic processes: the transulfuration (TS) pathways and the folate-dependent one-carbon (FOCM) metabolism. Both processes are altered in children suffering from autism.
The researchers compared blood sample from neurotypical children and children with autism, all between three and ten years old. Advanced statistical analysis tools enabled the scientist to accurately classify 97.1% neurotypical children and 97.6% of the children with autism based exclusively on their blood biomarkers.
While further study is required to confirm the results and to look at any effect of medications on the biomarkers’ blood concentration, this research is an indication that in the future, there might be a simple and accurate method to detect autism in children