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Autism Sign May Appear in First Months of Life

Eye contact starts declining at 8 weeks, finds study

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The researchers noted that the decline in interest in other people's eyes began at 2 months and continued declining until 2 years.

One expert called the findings a significant advance.

"This was a very well-done, very revealing study documenting in a precise and systematic way that children who are later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders have demonstrable and progressive differences in visual regard in infancy. It's a breakthrough finding," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"Whether this might permit accurate and reliable diagnosis earlier is still very unclear. But if it does lead to earlier identification, it may lead to the development of earlier interventions," he said.

Jones pointed out that these deficits aren't something that parents would be able to see on their own. "This is not something a parent can see by just holding a baby. We collected many measurements over time," he explained.

"Parents shouldn't be concerned if their babies aren't looking at them 100 percent of the time, but if they do have persistent concerns, they should talk to their child's pediatrician," advised Jones.

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