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Outward-Turning Eyes May Indicate Risk of Autism, Mental Illness

Scientists at the University of California and Mayo Clinic have found two indicators that can warn parents and doctors that a very young child may develop a mental disorder.

In the first study from the M.I.N.D. Institute of the University of California in Davis, researchers found that even children as young as one year old can show signs of autism. Dr. Sally Ozonoff, who reported her findings in the journal Autism, studied 66 one-year-olds, of nine of whom were later diagnosed with autism. She found that seven of the nine had unusual ways of looking sideways or staring intently at objects. They were also more likely to spin or rotate their toys.

"We feel that our field could do a better job of diagnosis," Ozonoff said. "Our results suggest that these particular behaviors might be useful to include in screening tests. The earlier you treat a child for autism, the more of an impact you can have on that child's future."

Dr. Brian Mohney and his colleagues at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota matched 407 patients with an eye disorder with 407 children who did not have the disorder. Children whose eyes turn outward, upward, or down had a 41 percent greater chance of developing mental illnesses before age 17. Children with eyes that turned inward were not at an increased risk.

Dr. Mohney, writing in the journal Pediatrics, noted that he did not know why there was a link between mental illness and ocular misalignment.

Labels: diagnosis, mental_illness, symtoms

Posted By: Aspen Education Group