Brain scans can detect autism in babies at six months
Autism cannot be officially diagnosed in the UK until the age of two, but a team of researchers believe it can be detected when babies are just six months old.
A recent study has revealed that monitoring and analysing brain activity can identify autism at a significantly younger age.
Experts now believe that children with an autism risk are diagnosed at the age of six months, they could benefit from having earlier treatments.
The result of the research, which was carried out by a team from the University of London’s Birckbeck College, has been published in the journal Current Biology.
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To carry out their investigation, the researchers focused on 54 babies aged six to 10 months who were thought to be ‘high risk’ because they had an older sibling with the behavioural disorder.
After using sensors to measure their brainwaves it was discovered that they processed social information and react differently to eye contact than children who do not suffer from autism do.
“Our findings demonstrate for the first time that direct measures of brain functioning during the first year of life associate with a later diagnosis of autism - well before the emergence of behavioural symptoms,” said Proffesor Mark Johnson of the study’s leader.
“Differences in the use of eye gaze to regulate social interaction are already a well-recognised early feature in many children with autism from the second year of life and at present it is these increasingly well-documented 'first signs' that will alert parents and professionals to possible differences.
Johnson added: “Future studies will be required to determine whether measurements of brain function such as those used in our study might one day play a role in helping to identify children at an even earlier age.”
Meanwhile, Christine Swabey, the Chief Executive of Autistica’s, the charity that helped fund the study, said: “The hope is this important research will lead to improved identification.
“Ultimately, the earlier we can identify autism, the better the outcomes will be in later childhood and adult life.”
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Schneider Electric's intelligent patient room: need to know
Schneider Electric has launched a virtual showcase that features its new "intelligent patient room". What is it exactly?
Who: Schneider Electric is a multinational that develops energy and automation solutions for many different industries - including hospitality, education, defence, and healthcare. Founded in 1836, today it is a Fortune 500 company, and it currently provides technology to 40% of hospitals around the world, among them Penn Medicine, one of the top hospitals in the US where Schneider's EcoStruxure for Healthcare is deployed, an IoT solution.
What: Schneider has launched its Innovation Experience Live Healthcare Lab, an immersive experience that takes visitors through a demonstration of a hospital, including the doctor’s office, the operating room, and the intelligent patient room.
The room features a digital patient footwall - a touchscreen that creates a single reference point for patients, families and healthcare providers, by incorporating care information, entertainment and environmental controls all in one place. A separate digital patient door display has important information for healthcare staff.
All Schneider's equipment is low-voltage, and integrated so that the patient room, clinical needs and IT are all seamlessly connected, what Schneider calls a digital “system of systems.”
Why: Mike Sanders, Customer Projects & Services in Healthcare Innovation at Schneider Electric, explains: “The hospital of the future will need to put the patient experience at the forefront, using innovative and connected systems to provide superior in-hospital care experiences.”
“With the shift to remote work and business brought forth by the pandemic, we knew that we needed to invest in a new virtual experience that showcases our vision for a truly integrated healthcare experience. We believe our intelligent patient room is the solution that our healthcare partners and customers have been looking for, and we’re excited to offer a way for them to experience it no matter where they are in the world.”
Where: The virtual experience was modelled after the new innovations installed at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, the first real-world installation of Schneider Electric’s fully integrated intelligent patient room technology. It is currently being hosted at the company’s St. Louis Innovation Hub and Innovation Executive Briefing Center (IEBC) facility.