Highlights of the 26th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Neuroimaging

Rohit Bakshi, MD


March 26, 2003

In This Article


Autism is a brain disorder characterized by deficits in socialization and language, and stereotyped behaviors. This is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first 3 years of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism affects as many as 2-6 in 1000 individuals in the United States. Approximately 1.5 million Americans are believed to have some form of autism. The US Department of Education and other governmental agencies have reported that the incidence of autism is growing at a rate of 10% to 17% per year. Autism is 4 times more prevalent in boys than girls and affects all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups around the globe. Most children with autism have primary autism, defined as autism with no associated or underlying identifiable disorder. The etiology of autism is unknown. Whereas structural imaging studies point to a biologic cause related to brain development, no consistent neuroimaging abnormality has been found.

Kohut and colleagues[3] presented 6 males with autism (ages 30 months [n = 2], 35 months [n = 2], 8 years, and 18 years) in whom MRI of the brain was performed. MRI was abnormal in all cases, revealing white matter lesions of hyperintensity on T2-weighted images. The lesions were periventricular, bilateral, and symmetric, involving the parietal (n = 2), trigonal (n = 1), and occipital white matter. One child also had a lesion in the right hippocampus. Two of the patients had ventriculomegaly. This pilot study reveals structural lesions associated with autism. Further study is necessary to confirm and extend these findings using age-matched controls and larger cohorts.


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