This is a concern that all young parents know. Does my child have “normal” brain development? Thanks to this new technology, autistic or neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) could be detected very early.
Detect as early as possible: a major challenge
In France, approximately 10 to 15% of children are affected by autistic or neurodevelopmental disorders. A very high figure even if all the disorders are not of the same nature.
Currently, a definitive diagnosis of TND is usually made around the age of 5 years.
It’s very late because in terms of TND, the earlier the diagnosis is made, the more efficient the treatment.
“There is consensus on one fact, it is the importance of the earliest possible diagnosis”, underlines Claire Compagnon, interministerial delegate for the national strategy “autism and TND”. For her, the ideal age would be between 6 months and 1 year.
Early detection opens the way to faster treatment by health professionals. “This coverage opens up rights to social security. This is important because previously the consultation with the psychomotrician or the psychologist was not reimbursed, ”specifies Professor Vincent Des Portes, neuropediatrician, quoted by the Lyon University Hospital.
It is therefore a small revolution that Iconeus offers with its machine.
Autism and other TNDs: functional ultrasound neuroimaging soon to be tested for newborn screening. https://t.co/JJKxfdcGIX
– The Daily Doctor (@leQdM) November 8, 2022
An ultrasound… 100 times better
Although MRI already provides a detailed image of the brain, this technology is not suitable for babies. The device developed by Iconeus is safe.
A probe is placed on the baby’s fontanel and allows the equivalent of a conventional ultrasound to be performed, but 100 times more precise. To function, neurons need to draw energy. This activity generates blood flow variations that the machine is able to not only detect but analyze in real time.
This technology can therefore reveal which neural connections are faulty and thus understand which parts of the brain are affected and what disorders may result.
Faced with this progress, the Robert-Debré hospital decided to use a machine for clinical research at the start of 2023. First, a test phase will make it possible to establish “normality” data and then compare them to children at risk (such as premature babies for example). This trial will extend over 3 years to then analyze the impact of support on the attenuation of discrepancies.
Detecting autism at a very young age is therefore not yet on the agenda but could well become a reality in the years to come. And thanks to a French company, what’s more!
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