ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Death
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
FITNESS
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
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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