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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Aug;55:627-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.06.006. Epub 2015 Jun 17.

Early detection of autism spectrum disorders: From retrospective home video studies to prospective 'high risk' sibling studies.

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Department of Developmental Neuropsychiatry, Scientific Institute "Fondazione Stella Maris", Viale del Tirreno 331, I-56018 Calambrone, Pisa, Italy.
Department of Neuroscience, Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, I.R.C.C.S. Children's Hospital Bambino Gesù, Rome, Italy.
Neurotoxicology and Neuroendocrinology, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, I-00161 Rome, Italy. Electronic address:


In the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) field of research there is scientific consensus on the importance of early identification (and subsequently, of timely treatment) for a better prognosis. For this reason, early diagnosis represents a common challenge for clinicians and an area of great interest for researchers. In the past decades, many studies have focused on identifying subclinical signs of ASD with different types of experimental designs and methods, both retrospectively and prospectively. The purpose of this narrative review is to present changes in methodology, from a historical point of view, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of different research designs. Conclusions are drawn taking into account potentialities of prospective designs for the study of early predictors of ASD.


ASD; Autism; Early identification; Family home-movies; Review; Siblings

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