This week summarizes some new studies looking at autism traits and autism diagnosis in girls with anorexia nervosa. While the two disorders may seem different on the outset, they do share some behavioral features. Unfortunately, most studies look at autism in those with anorexia, not the other way around. However, what is known is that there is not only higher levels of ASD traits in girls with anorexia, about 10% of girls with anorexia also have an autism diagnosis. This number can only be trusted if you look at both standardized observation instruments AND parental report. Studies determining the rates of eating disorders in autism are desperately needed for better treatment of symptoms.
This week the Infant Brain Imaging Study, or IBIS, published it’s 2nd study on the emergence of changes in the brains of individuals with autism. While red flags for autism can be seen early, a diagnosis of autism is not typically made until after 24 months of age. Using a baby sibling research design, scientists showed increases in the size of certain areas of the brain between 6-12 months. This opens up opportunities for even earlier diagnosis of ASD in the future. Also, a group at Stanford shows the emergence and disappearance of co-morbid symptoms in autism, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and ADHD, which are dependent on sex and age. Together, these studies show that autism begins very very early and symptoms and behavioral and biological features change over time.