London: A simple urine test could help in the detection of autism because of a different chemical profile that children with this condition have, a new study has found.
Jeremy Nicholson, professor and study co-author at London`s Imperial College (IC), said: "Autism is a condition that affects a person`s social skills, so at first it might seem strange that there`s a relationship between autism and what`s happening in someone`s gut."
"Autism affects many different parts of a person`s system and our study shows that you can see how it disrupts their system by looking at their metabolism and their gut bacteria," added Nicholson.
People with autism have a range of different symptoms, but they commonly experience problems with communication and social skills, such as understanding other people`s emotions and making conversation and eye contact.
They are also known to have a different makeup of bacteria in their guts from non-autistic people.
The distinctive urinary metabolic fingerprint for autism identified in the study could form the basis of a non-invasive test that might help diagnose autism earlier.
At present, children are assessed for autism through a lengthy process involving a range of tests that explore the child`s social interaction, communication and imaginative skills, said an IC release.
Early intervention can greatly improve the progress of children with autism but it is currently difficult to establish a firm diagnosis when children are under 18 months of age, although it is likely that changes may occur much earlier than this.
Researchers reached their conclusions by using H NMR Spectroscopy to analyse the urine of three groups of children aged between 3 and 9: 39 children who had previously been diagnosed with autism, 28 non-autistic siblings of children with autism, and 34 children who did not have autism who did not have an autistic sibling.