A simple urine test could be used to diagnose autism earlier and far more cheaply than current methods. People with autism often have gastrointestinal problems as well and they have a different range of bacteria in their guts from unaffected people. These gut bacteria produce different by-products in people's urine and a team of researchers from Imperial College London and the University of South Australia studied this in a sample of 101 children aged between three and nine. 39 had previously been diagnosed with autism, 28 did not have autism themselves but had autistic siblings and 34 had neither. The study found that each of the groups had a distinctive chemical fingerprint which they hope will allow an earlier age of intervention than current tests which rely on measuring children's social, communication and imaginative skills.
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