Early Detection, Intervention, and Neurobiology in Autism: Neurobiology Portion

Principal Investigator: Rebecca Landa

This research is being done to learn more about the brain development in children with autism and related disorders. We will be looking at blood samples to examine substances that influence early brain development. There has been some indication that children with autism have unusual levels of these substances in their blood. If this is the case, we may be able to use information about these substances to help us diagnose autism at an earlier age. We will be comparing the levels of substances in the blood of children with autism to the levels of substances in the blood of other children.

There are seven different groups of children who may join this study. The first group consists of children who have an older sibling with autism. The second group is made up of children who begin talking late. The third group consists of children diagnosed with autism in a family with no history of autism spectrum disorders. The fourth group will consist of typically developing children. The fifth group will consist of the older siblings of the children in group one; these children have already been diagnosed with autism. The sixth group is made up of infants and toddlers seen clinically to rule out a clinical picture associated with ASD. The seventh group is made up of children with Down Syndrome.

Blood will be drawn for this assessment beginning at any age between birth and 36 months (repeat blood draws will be made at 6 to 12 month intervals) so that variations in neurochemical profile may be tracked across these ages, and the relationship between changes in neurochemical and behavioral profiles may be examined. Blood may not be drawn at all ages listed above, depending on when children enter the study. We will also draw blood from the older siblings of the children in Group 1 at the age of eligibility (around 18 months of age).