MUSC to participate in national autism study

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Could a blood test determine if a child will develop autism? That's what researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina will be trying to help figure out.

MUSC has been selected to be part of a national autism study that will look at whether autism can be diagnosed earlier by examining blood tests.

SynapDX Corporation chose 20 test sites around the United States.

MUSC Professor of Pediatrics, Dr. Michelle Macias says more than 600 kids will be participating through the country, with fifty locally.

"One of the problems is that we have such a late age of diagnosis and this study is aiming to help assist with earlier diagnosis and detection," Macias said.

Doctor Macias says the blood test studies the amount of RNA replicated in a child's genes.

"There have been preliminary studies done but what we know is that there's not just one gene involved with autism spectrum disorders," Macias said.

She says children can show signs of autism before 18 months but the average age of diagnosis is around 4.

"This is problem because we know earlier intervention is best and what we seen when we start earlier intervention with our typical interventions that we have improved outcomes," she said.

About one in 88 children is diagnosed with autism in the U.S., according to the organization conducting the study.