American scientists said that new evidence revealed that autism begins when the fetus is formed in the mother’s womb, long before birth.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that irregular changes in the fetus’s brain during its development, that is, long before birth, may cause symptoms of autism to appear.
This study raises hopes for a better understanding of the state of the brain, which may improve the lives of children with autism.
The research team from the University of California, San Diego, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle says the study also underscores the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
The researchers tested tissues taken from the brains of 22 children with and without autism, between the ages of two and 15 years.
The researchers conducted examinations of the outer part of the brain, known as the cerebral cortex, to see how it forms the layers of the brain.
The researchers found abnormal developments in this process in 90 percent of children with autism, compared to ten percent of children without autism.
The researchers also said that the changes they observed in the brain were in areas related to social, emotional, and linguistic communication.
The research team indicated that the nature of these changes that occur in the brain explains the improvement of some cases of young children with autism if they receive early treatment.
Eric Courchesne, a neuroscientist, said: “The fact that these changes occur in irregular patches, and not in all of the cerebral cortex, gives us hope, in addition to a clearer vision of the nature of autism.”
Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health in America, adds: “This irregular brain formation is repeated in some children with autism, and we can expect that the process begins long before birth.”
Carol Coffey, Director of the National Autistic Society Center in Britain, says: “This study sheds light on a complex disease, which is often misunderstood… This may help us support the approximately 700,000 people with autism in the United Kingdom, as the disease may have an impact.” “Devastating, but the right support will make a big difference.”