Spotting autism

Low levels of the hormone vasopressin could be a biomarker for autism.

Low levels of the hormone vasopressin in fluid around the brain could be an autism biomarker. Researchers made the discovery by testing cerebrospinal fluid collected from autistic children and from monkeys with low sociability.

Stanford and UC-Davis scientists led the research, described in a paper published May 2 in Science Translational Medicine.

Autistic children are diagnosed over time through parent feedback and clinical observations. A biological test could speed diagnosis and treatment, said lead author Karen Parker, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.