Soon, simple urine test for autism

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Washington, June 4 (ANI): Autistic children have a different chemical fingerprint in their urine than their non-autistic peers, according to a new study.

According to researchers behind the Journal of Proteome Research study, from Imperial College London and the University of South Australia, the findings could ultimately lead to a simple urine test to determine whether or not a young child has autism.

People with autism have a range of different symptoms, but they commonly experience problems with communication and social skills, such as understanding other people's emotions and making conversation and eye contact. People with autism are also known to suffer from gastrointestinal disorders and they have a different makeup of bacteria in their guts from non-autistic people.

The distinctive urinary metabolic fingerprint for autism identified in the study could form the basis of a non-invasive test that might help diagnose autism earlier. This would enable autistic children to receive assistance, such as advanced behavioural therapy, earlier in their development than is currently possible.

At present, children are assessed for autism through a lengthy process involving a range of tests that explore the child's social interaction, communication and imaginative skills.

Early intervention can greatly improve the progress of children with autism but it is currently difficult to establish a firm diagnosis when children are under 18 months of age, although it is likely that changes may occur much earlier than this.

The researchers suggest that their new understanding of the makeup of bacteria in autistic children's guts could also help scientists to develop treatments to tackle autistic people's gastrointestinal problems.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, the corresponding author of the study, who is the Head of the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, said: "Autism is a condition that affects a person's social skills, so at first it might seem strange that there's a relationship between autism and what's happening in someone's gut. However, your metabolism and the makeup of your gut bacteria reflect all sorts of things, including your lifestyle and your genes. Autism affects many different parts of a person's system and our study shows that you can see how it disrupts their system by looking at their metabolism and their gut bacteria."

"We hope our findings might be the first step towards creating a simple urine test to diagnose autism at a really young age, although this is a long way off - such a test could take many years to develop and we're just beginning to explore the possibilities. We know that giving therapy to children with autism when they are very young can make a huge difference to their progress. A urine test might enable professionals to quickly identify children with autism and help them early on," he added. (ANI)

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