According to a study, some young children accurately diagnosed as autistic lose their symptoms and diagnosis as they get older. Picture: Zurijeta/Shutterstock.com
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills, BBC reported.
According to the report published this week, some young children accurately diagnosed as autistic lose their symptoms and diagnosis as they get older.
The findings of the National Institute of Health study of 112 children appear to challenge the widely held belief that autism is a lifelong condition.
While not conclusive, the study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, suggests some children might possibly outgrow autism.
The website reported that experts were cautious; arguing that that much more work is needed to find out what might explain the findings.
Dr Deborah Fein and her team at the University of Connecticut studied 34 children who had been diagnosed with autism in early childhood but went on to function as well as 34 other children in their classes at school, bbc.co.uk reports.
On tests - cognitive and observational, as well as reports from the children's parents and school - they were indistinguishable from their classroom peers. They now showed no sign of problems with language, face recognition, communication or social interaction, the website reported
“Although the diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time, the findings suggest that there is a very wide range of possible outcomes,” Dr Thomas Insel Director of the National Institute of Mental Health was quoted as saying.
However, according to another US study babies who are exposed to lots of traffic-related air pollution in the womb and during their first year of life are more likely to become autistic.
The findings, which appeared in the Archives of General Psychiatry, support previous research linking how close children live to freeways to their risk of autism, the study's lead author argued.
"We're not saying traffic pollution causes autism, but it may be a risk factor for it," said Heather Volk, an assistant professor at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
The prevalence of autism has grown over the past few years, and it's now estimated that the disorder - which runs a spectrum from a profound inability to communicate and mental retardation to milder symptoms seen in Asperger's Syndrome - affects one in every 88 children born in the United States.
The increase in autism diagnoses has also been accompanied by a growing body of research on the disorder. Volk's new study, however, is one of a series of looks into how environmental factors may be linked to a child's risk of being autistic, and done over the past few years.
According to the Centre for Communicable Diseases, one in every 110 children in South Africa is born with autism, with an estimated 135 000 not getting the specialised education they need.
With the latest research showing that autism could be improved if diagnosed earlier, more needs to be done to create awareness about the disorder. -Additional reporting from Reuters and Relaxnews.