Amygdala Enlargement Seen in Young Children With AutismLast Updated: May 05, 2009. At the age of 2 years, the amygdala was enlarged in children with autism compared to controls, a finding that was associated with joint attention, according to research published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
TUESDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- At the age of 2 years, the amygdala was enlarged in children with autism compared to controls, a finding that was associated with joint attention, according to research published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Matthew W. Mosconi, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed data from 50 children with autism and 33 controls, the latter group comprised 22 typically developing children and 11 who were developmentally delayed. Children underwent MRI between 18 and 35 months, and most underwent additional imaging between 42 and 59 months of age.
The researchers note that at both time points, children with autism showed amygdala enlargement. Growth trajectories between these points were similar in autistic children and controls, suggesting that amygdala growth trajectories are increased by the age of 2 in autism and stay enlarged in early childhood. At the second time point, amygdala volume was associated with joint attention ability in the children with autism, the investigators found.
"Continued follow-up (now under way) of this sample will be necessary to examine whether amygdala growth rates in autism continue to parallel those seen in nonautistic individuals, or whether a second period of accelerated growth or period of volumetric atrophy occurs in autism after age 4 years. Similarly, longitudinal MR imaging studies of high-risk neonates will provide insights into the onset of amygdala overgrowth in autism," the authors conclude.
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