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An app that could diagnose autism within minutes has been developed by scientists — and it is 88 percent accurate.

Researchers at Duke University, in North Carolina, say the app — called SenseToKnow — would be available for download onto iPhones and iPads.

It works by playing a six-minute video to children while analyzing their facial expressions in response to features like bubbles, a fox sticking out its tongue and children playing. 

Parents who are told their child is ‘high risk’ for autism by the app would then be asked to see their pediatrician for an assessment. 

The app is already available on online phone stores, but parents will only be able to use it after receiving permission from the research team. 

Researchers heralded the new technology as a breakthrough in diagnosing autism, which is currently evaluated by parents taking a survey — though this is poor at diagnosing the condition among girls and children of color.

Pictured above is the icon for Search To Know and the welcome screen. Users can download the app but must be approved by Duke University researchers in order to use it

As well as showing short movies, a version of the app also contained a bubble-popping game that was used to help diagnose autism

Dr Geraldine Dawson, a psychiatrist who led the study, told DailyMail.com: ‘The app is still being researched and only parents who are participating in our studies can download and use it.

‘In the future, we envision parents downloading the app on their smartphone or tablet and administering the app to their child at home.

‘The results of the app — specifically whether the child is considered high likelihood for an autism diagnosis — would be sent to their pediatrician or other healthcare provider who would discuss the results with the parents and make appropriate referrals for services.

‘The app also provides information about the child’s clinical profile which can be used for intervention planning and monitoring.’

About one in 36 children in the US have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disability.

People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, as well as restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests. 

The rate is higher among boys — four in 100 — compared to girls — one in 100. 

There is no one definitive cause of autism and research suggests the disorder develops from a combination of genetic and environmental influences that affect early brain development.

In a study published in Nature Medicine and backed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 475 toddlers aged between 17 months and three years old used the app during a well-child visit with their doctors.

Each was asked to watch the six-minute videos on the app as they had their facial expressions tracked and analyzed. Researchers recorded behavioral responses such as blink rate, head movement and attention span, among others. 

Overall, 49 children were later diagnosed with autism — or 10.3 percent.

Of these, the app correctly diagnosed autism in 43 out of 49 kids, or 87.8 percent.

For the 426 children who did not have autism, it correctly said 80.8 percent — or 344 — did not have the condition.

The NIH said kids in the study who screened positive for ASD on the app had about a 40 percent probability of being diagnosed with the condition, compared to the 15 percent probability rate for children who screened positive using the standard parental survey.

This probability climbed even higher when the app and the survey were combined, which led to a 63.4 percent chance that screening positive would lead to an official diagnosis.  

Results were consistent across boys and girls, they said, and people from all ethnicities.

This is not the first time scientists have turned to technology to study and diagnose ASD. 

Cognoa, a medical company in Palo Alto, California, last year became the first company to have its app cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for diagnosing autism.

Their app is designed for children between 18 months and six years old.

To receive an official diagnosis, children must still see a trained professional, but this represents another step toward a standardized test for autism.

Screenings for ASD are advised at the 18-month and 24-month milestones, when a child’s language, movement, and thinking skills, as well as behaviors and emotions, are observed and measured against the rest of their age group.

Formal diagnosis, however, must be handled by a trained specialist such as a developmental pediatrician or child psychologist.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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