A simple brain trace can help identify autism in children as young as two years old, researchers say.
EEG was able to clearly distinguished children suffering with autism from others in a trial involving nearly 1,000 children.
Experts emphasise that more work is needed to confirm the BMC Medicine study results.
There are more than 500,000 autistic people in the UK.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that it is not a single condition and hence affects individuals in different ways.
Generally, people with autism have trouble with social interaction and can appear locked in their own worlds.
It can be a difficult condition to diagnose and can go undetected for years.
The latest study found 33 specific EEG patterns that appeared to be linked to autism.
These patterns consistently spotted autism in children across a range of age groups, spanning from two to 12 years old.
The scientists repeated their analysis 10 times, splitting up their study group (children with a medical diagnosis of autism and children with no signs of autism) in different ways.
Around 90 percent of the time, the EEG patterns could correctly detect the children diagnosed with autism.
The team now plan to repeat their study in children with Asperger’s syndrome – one particular subset of autism.
Typically, people with Asperger’s have higher-than-average intelligence and struggle less than people with other types of autism with their speech.
And the study could also point the way to determining if younger siblings of children with autism are likely to develop the same condition themselves.
“It is a great cause of anxiety when an older sibling develops autism,” the BBC quoted Dr. Duffy as saying.
“EEG might offer a way to check for the same condition in younger siblings in advance of them having symptoms,” he added.
EEG could also be used to track what effect different autism treatments are having on the condition, he said.
- New EEG Test To Diagnose Children With Autism (medicalnewstoday.com)
- EEG brain scans may detect signs of autism in 2-year-olds (cbsnews.com)
- EEGs to Diagnose Autism? (abcnews.go.com)