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Autism Res. 2012 Oct;5(5):331-9. doi: 10.1002/aur.1244. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Atypical cry acoustics in 6-month-old infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder.

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Departments of Psychiatry & Human Behavior and Pediatrics, Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Brown Alpert Medical School, Women & Infants Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island 02905, USA.


This study examined differences in acoustic characteristics of infant cries in a sample of babies at risk for autism and a low-risk comparison group. Cry samples derived from vocal recordings of 6-month-old infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 21) and low-risk infants (n = 18) were subjected to acoustic analyses using analysis software designed for this purpose. Cries were categorized as either pain-related or non-pain-related based on videotape coding. At-risk infants produced pain-related cries with higher and more variable fundamental frequency (F (0) ) than low-risk infants. At-risk infants later classified with ASD at 36 months had among the highest F (0) values for both types of cries and produced cries that were more poorly phonated than those of nonautistic infants, reflecting cries that were less likely to be produced in a voiced mode. These results provide preliminary evidence that disruptions in cry acoustics may be part of an atypical vocal signature of autism in early life.

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