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Video-based therapy may help babies at risk of autism

By Reuters - Jan 29,2015 - Last updated at Jan 29,2015

LONDON — Video-based therapy for families with babies at risk of autism improves infants’ engagement, attention and social behaviour, and might reduce their risk chances of developing the condition, the findings of a small scientific study show.

Researchers publishing the findings in The Lancet Psychiatry journal said they showed that using video feedback-based therapy to help parents understand and respond to their baby’s early communication style might help modify emerging autism symptoms.

“Targeting the earliest risk markers of autism, such as lack of attention or reduced social interest or engagement, during the first year of life may lessen the development of these symptoms later,” said Jonathan Green, a Manchester University professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, who led the study.

People with autism have varying levels of impairment across three areas: social interaction and understanding, repetitive behaviour and interests, and language and communication.

The exact causes of the neurodevelopmental disorder are not known, but evidence shows they are likely to include a range of genetic and environmental factors.

As many as one in 50 school-age children in the United States are diagnosed with autism, although some of these will be milder cases. In Europe, the rate is around one in 100 children.

“It will be important to document whether any such changes observed in the children’s behaviour persist in the absence of continued intervention,” said Melissa Allen, an autism specialist at the University of Lancaster.

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