Jun 9, 2017

Brain scans help to identify autism in infants

Evan Vucci / AP

A new type of brain scan may help physicians diagnose autism in children as young as six months old, reports NBC. In a study of 59 high-risk children, it was able to correctly identify 9 out of 11 children later diagnosed with autism.

Why it matters: Early detection of autism can help parents prepare for their child's development. An October 2016 report found working with parents to better their at-home communication with their children "reduced symptoms in children with severe autism for years". This was the first study of its kind and while researchers at UNC Chapel Hill noted that it has not been proven to work, early detection of autism in high-risk infants would allow the long-term effects to be further studied.

How it works: The team conducting these studies, made up of members at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of North Carolina, looked specifically at brain activity to identify autism. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to look at structural changes in the brains of infants born with autism and functional connectivity MRI identified how regions of the brain communicate with one another during infancy. Together, the scans revealed differences that allowed researchers to correctly identify the nine children later diagnosed with autism.

The limitations: "No one has done this kind of study in six-month-olds before, and so it needs to replicated," Emerson said. "We hope to conduct a larger study soon with different study participants."

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - Science

Live updates: SpaceX attempts to launch NASA astronauts Saturday

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

At 3:22 p.m. ET today, SpaceX is expected to launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station for the first time.

Why it matters: The liftoff — should it go off without a hitch — will be the first time a private company has launched people to orbit. It will also bring crewed launches back to the U.S. for the first time in nine years, since the end of the space shuttle program.

Follow along below for live updates throughout the day...

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Police officers grapple with protesters in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd spread nationwide on Friday evening.

The big picture: Police responded in force in cities ranging from Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to Washington, D.C. and Denver to Louisville. In Los Angeles, police declared a stretch of downtown off limits, with Oakland issuing a similar warning.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Gov. Tim Walz to mobilize Minnesota's full National Guard

Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced on Saturday he is activating the full National Guard to respond to street violence in Minneapolis that broke out during protests of a police encounter that left a black man, George Floyd, dead.

Why it matters: This is the first time the state has activated the full National Guard since World War II. " The Minnesota National Guard told Axios in an email that up to 10,000 soldiers and airmen would be deployed after all activations and processing are complete.