Routine Prenatal Ultrasound May Identify Early Signs of Autism

February 28, 2022

Imaging Method Found Anomalies in the Heart, Kidneys, and Head of Fetuses Who Later Developed ASD 

According to a new study from Israel, a routine prenatal ultrasound can identify early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To arrive at this intriguing conclusion, researchers surveyed data from hundreds of prenatal ultrasound scans from the fetal anatomy survey, which is typically taken at the 20th week of pregnancy. The study’s authors found anomalies in the heart, kidneys, and head in 30% of fetuses who later developed ASD. This percentage is three times higher than typically developing fetuses from the general population and twice as high as the participants’ typically developing siblings. Surprisingly, these anomalies were found more often in girls than in boys. As expected, the severity of the anomalies corresponded with the severity level of autism. The study’s authors point to previous research which demonstrated that children born with congenital diseases, primarily those involving hearts and kidneys had a higher risk of developing autism. In the future, the team hopes that doctors will use signs found in ultrasounds to evaluate the probability of a fetus later developing ASD. Additionally, their wish is for physicians to recognize that certain types of autism involve other organ anomalies which begin and can be detected in utero.    


Original Article 

Study Abstract 

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