MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Researchers at the University of Minnesota have received a $3.7 million grant for a study that could lead to earlier, more accurate diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

The university announced Wednesday that the grant, which is from the National Institutes of Health, will go toward research focused on developing population-based risk profiles that could predict whether a child will develop autism spectrum disorder or related conditions.

Currently, the average age of autism diagnosis in Minnesota is 5 years old, as diagnostic techniques depend on behavioral signs, the university says. If the new research proves effective, it could lead to much earlier diagnosis and, as a result, early intervention at a time when the brain is more malleable.

In addition to the $3.7 million grant, the university says it’ll also be a part of a newly-announced infant brain imagining study, which could also contribute earlier detection of autism spectrum disorder.

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