Naila Rabbani, the study's coordinator and a researcher at the University of Warwick, told that the test can be used to diagnose autism at any age. Dr. Rabbani hopes that further testing will reveal more potentially damaging compounds, which will help "improve diagnosis of ASD and point the way to new causes".
Diagnosis can be hard because there is a wide range of symptoms, particularly at the early stages of development.
In the study, published in Molecular Autism, the team analysed blood and urine samples from children who were diagnosed with autism and a control group of healthy children. She also added that larger studies and more research would reveal the cause and factors that are associated with autism which still is a poorly understood condition.
Autism affects behavior and social interaction in particular, but it is hard to diagnose before age two, and the diagnosis is often delayed for many years.
"This study does not disclose to us how successfully this measure can separate amongst autism and other neurodevelopmental or emotional well-being conditions, for example, ADHD and tension".
The World Health Organisation estimates that one in every 160 children falls into the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.
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About one-third of ASD cases is believed to have genetic causes while the rest could be due to a combination of mutations, rare genetic variants, and environmental factors.
The next steps are to repeat the study with further groups of children to confirm the good diagnostic performance and to assess if the test can identify ASD at very early stages assess if treatments are working.
They say the tests have the potential to diagnose ASD in the early stages of life.
They found autistic children have damage to the proteins in their blood plasma, caused by sugar and harmful molecules containing oxygen. The reaction, known as "cellular danger response" (CDR), is a common defense mechanism that allows cells to wait for danger to pass. Autism is thought to develop during early childhood, when cells can become "stuck" in this mode.
Scientists say it may be possible to test for autism at a much earlier age than now possible. Diagnosis is typically made after the age of two because it depends on the behavioural assessments of the child. This attempt is weakened by a small sample size, possible overfitting of data and a lack of comparison groups. It is hard to diagnose and is not detectable before 2-year-old.