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."

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Pelosi, Schumer demand postmaster general reverse USPS cuts ahead of election

Schumer and Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Thursday calling for the recent Trump appointee to reverse operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service that "threaten the timely delivery of mail" ahead of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: U.S. mail and election infrastructure are facing a test like no other this November, with a record-breaking number of mail-in ballots expected as Americans attempt to vote in the midst of a pandemic.

2 hours ago - Science

CRISPR co-discoverer on the gene editor's pandemic push

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired and BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the development of CRISPR-based tests for detecting disease — and highlighting how gene-editing tools might one day fight pandemics, one of its discoverers, Jennifer Doudna, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Testing shortages and backlogs underscore a need for improved mass testing for COVID-19. Diagnostic tests based on CRISPR — which Doudna and colleagues identified in 2012, ushering in the "CRISPR revolution" in genome editing — are being developed for dengue, Zika and other diseases, but a global pandemic is a proving ground for these tools that hold promise for speed and lower costs.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 18,912,947 — Total deaths: 710,318— Total recoveries — 11,403,473Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 4,867,916 — Total deaths: 159,841 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP over stimulus negotiations: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Majority of Americans say states reopened too quicklyFauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: The health care sector imploded in Q2More farmers are declaring bankruptcyJuly's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.