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Video-Based Tx May Benefit Babies at Risk for Autism

Research suggests an effect for at-risk infants, but more study is needed

FRIDAY, Jan. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Therapy involving “video feedback” — where parents watch videos of their interactions with their baby — might help prevent infants at risk for autism from developing the disorder, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The research involved 54 families of infants who were at increased risk for autism because they had an older sibling with the condition. Some of the families were assigned to a therapy program in which a therapist used video feedback to help parents understand and respond to their infant’s individual communication style. The goal of the therapy — delivered over five months while the infants were ages 7 to 10 months — was to improve the infant’s attention, communication, early language development, and social engagement. Other families were assigned to a control group that received no therapy.

The researchers found that after five months, infants in the families in the video therapy group showed improvements in attention, engagement, and social behavior.

Using the therapy during the baby’s first year of life may “modify the emergence of autism-related behaviors and symptoms,” lead author Jonathan Green, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, said in a journal news release. “Children with autism typically receive treatment beginning at 3 to 4 years old,” he explained. “But our findings suggest that targeting the earliest risk markers of autism — such as lack of attention or reduced social interest or engagement — during the first year of life may lessen the development of these symptoms later on.”

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