ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Know Your Asthma Triggers
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
CAREGIVING
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Greener Neighborhoods Mean Slimmer Children
Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
FITNESS
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Showerheads Harbor a Bounty of Germs
Kids More Apt to Smoke If Mom Did While Pregnant
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Add your Article

Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- While poor eye contact has long been a suspected sign of possible autism, researchers at Yale University have used "eye-mapping technology" to prove that children with autism don't make eye contact like normally developing children do.

Published in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, the new research found that children with autism spent more time looking at an adult's mouth instead of gazing into the eyes.

"Just as the eyes are the window to the soul, the eyes are also a window into social development," said study senior author Ami Klin, director of the autism program at Yale University School of Medicine.

Klin said that by using eye-mapping technology, it's possible that a vulnerability for autism could be identified much earlier than is currently possible. And, he said, "The earlier we are able to identify children, the better it is, because early interventions make a difference in optimizing children's outcomes."

It's estimated that autism, a developmental disorder that disrupts communication and social interaction, affects about 3.4 out of every 1,000 children between the ages of 3 and 10, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Parents are generally the first to notice early signs of autism. The NIMH says that some known early signs that may indicate an autism spectrum disorder in a child include:

* By age 1, doesn't babble, point or gesture.
* Doesn't speak a single word by 16 months.
* By age 2, hasn't combined two words.
* Seems to lose language skills.
* Interacts poorly socially.
* Doesn't respond to his or her name.
* Doesn't smile.
* Makes poor eye contact.
* Doesn't appear to know how to play with toys and may repeatedly line up toys or other objects.

For the new study, Klin and his colleagues, including Warren Jones, compared 15 children with autism to 36 typically developing children, and to another 15 children who were developmentally delayed but not autistic. All of the children were 2 years old.

The children were shown 10 videos of adults looking directly into the camera and mimicking caregiving and playing with the child. While the videos were running, the researchers used eye tracking to assess the child's visual fixation patterns.

They found that children with autism spent significantly less time looking at the eyes than did typically developing children or the developmentally delayed group. Autistic children looked at the eyes about 30 percent of the time, compared to nearly 55 percent for both of the other groups.

Children with autism spent almost 40 percent of the time looking at the mouth area, while children in the other groups only spent about 24 percent of the time looking at this area.

Eye fixation in children with autism also appeared to predict the level of social disability. Those who had greater social disabilities spent less time looking at the eye area, according to the study.

"We've always had a sense that children with autism don't make eye contact, but this study confirms it in a higher-tech way," said Cynthia Johnson, director of the autism center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Johnson said she'd like to see this study confirmed in a larger group of children. Klin added that he and his colleagues are currently conducting a prospective study in children at a higher risk of autism to see "if there's a derailment in the process of social engagement," and if so, when that happens.

More information

To learn more about the early signs of autism, visit the American Academy of Family Physicians' FamilyDoctor Web site.



SOURCES: Ami Klin, Ph.D., director, autism program, and Harris associate professor of child psychology and psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Cynthia Johnson, Ph.D., director, autism center, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; August 2008 Archives of General Psychiatry

Last Updated: Aug. 06, 2008

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