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Newborn's Placenta May Predict Autism Risk

Identifying infants with higher odds could improve treatment, researchers say

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"I'd like to see it as a routine test," Kliman said. The test is labor intensive and requires pathology, however, and Kliman estimated it could cost $2,000 or more.

This isn't the first study to link placental abnormalities with autism risk, said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, an advocacy and research group. "However, it is one of the largest studies to confirm this finding," she said.

But more research is needed to confirm the findings, she said.

It is too soon to suggest this as a routine test, said Dr. Daniel Coury, medical director of the group's Autism Treatment Network and chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He praised the study, but also said more research is needed to duplicate the findings.

"Being able to identify those infants at greater risk so we can target our interventions is really big news," he said.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health; the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis; Yale University Reproductive and Placental Research Unit; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The researchers don't hold patents on the procedure or have financial interests in it.

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