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Outcome classification of preschool children with autism spectrum disorders using MRI brain measures.

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1
Children's Hospital Research Center, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. natacha@ucsd.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To test the hypothesis that a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain measures obtained during early childhood distinguish children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from typically developing children and is associated with functional outcome.

METHOD:

Quantitative MRI technology was used to measure gray and white matter volumes (cerebrum and cerebellum), total brain volume, and the area of the cerebellar vermis in 52 boys with a provisional diagnosis of autism (aged 1.9-5.2 years) and 15 typically developing young children (aged 1.7-5.2 years). Diagnostic confirmation and cognitive outcome data were obtained after the children reached 5 years of age.

RESULTS:

A discriminant function analysis of the MRI brain measures correctly classified 95.8% of the ASD cases and 92.3% of the control cases. This set of variables also correctly classified 85% of the ASD cases as lower functioning and 68% of the ASD cases as higher functioning.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results indicate that variability in cerebellar and cerebral size is correlated with diagnostic and functional outcome in very young children with ASD.

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