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MSU Research Center Expansion Boosts Autism Study

Dr. Keith English photo
Courtesy photo
MSU College of Human Medicine
Dr. Keith English, chairs the MSU College of Human Medicine Department of Pediatrics and Human Development.

Early detection and treatment is the best path to reducing the severity of autism in children. The opening of the new MSU College of Human Medicine research facility in Grand Rapids this week will include an expansion of efforts to find markers that could result in earlier detection.

Dr. Keith English, chairman of the college’s Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, says the Grand Rapids expansion has made it possible to recruit three new developmental neuroscientists who will look for these markers.

"Currently, we really can only make the early diagnosis once a child develops these features that fit the diagnosis," Dr. English explains. "That's frustrating for parents, families, children and doctors because by the time that occurs, we're worried that we've missed our best chance to intervene."

New ways of finding these markers could include blood tests, genetic tests, an electroencephalogram finding or neuroimaging. "All of these different areas are being studied," Dr. English continues, "and we're getting good insight now into how we identify a child before they develop the features of autism."

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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