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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Urine test detected some autism

A simple urine test identified one-third of the children with autism spectrum disorder in a new study, and researchers say that could lead to earlier diagnoses. Furthermore, this kind of work could lead to better-tailored treatments for a subset of children with elevated levels of certain compounds in their urine, said James Woods, a researcher at the University of Washington who worked with Battelle researchers on the project. “If it can detect increased risk of autism at age 1, that would be fantastic,” he said. “It’s the only biomarker (test) I’m aware of that could be done noninvasively and fairly inexpensively. Woods said the urine test — which looks for elevated levels of compounds called porphyrins — costs $50 to $100. He said the cost would come down if the test were used frequently to screen babies. Woods said everybody has the compounds in their urine, but some of the children in the study had clearly elevated levels. The study included only boys, who are much more likely to have autism than girls, but the test likely would work for both genders based on other research, Woods said.

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