Researchers built an app to spot autistic symptoms in infants

Recent findings by Duke University showcased a mobile app purportedly capable of spotting symptoms of autism among infants.

First publicized in JAMA Pediatrics, the mobile app works by assessing eye gaze patterns through the watching of short films on their electronic device. Subsequent use of machine learning establishes if the child was fixated on the human or objects.

Infants with autism generally exhibit a lack of attention to people, with a distinct focus on the environment, in comparison to healthy children.

“We can track eye gaze patterns in toddlers to assess risk for autism,” said the study’s senior author in a press release of the findings.

“This is the first time that we’ve been able to provide this type of assessment using only a smartphone or tablet. This study served as a proof-of-concept, and we’re very encouraged.”

The app, with its eye-tracking features, takes less than 10 minutes to administer, for identifying gaze patterns associated with autism in infants. It was tested on nearly 1,000 infants between 16 to 38 months of age.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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