Researchers Study Cry Acoustics of Infants to Determine Risk for Autism
Researchers at Women & Infants’ Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk and the University of Pittsburgh have been studying the cry acoustics of six-month-old infants. Their research has recently been published in Autism Research.
Understanding the importance of early diagnosis, researchers at Women & Infants’ Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk (http://www.womenandinfants.org/
“Because we can measure various aspects of babies’ cries from the earliest days of life, it may be possible to use this technique to identify risk for neurological problems such as autism long before we can detect behavioral differences,”
The study examined ways in which infants at risk for autism produced cries as compared to the cries of low-risk infants. Recordings of babies’ cries were excerpted from vocal and video recordings of six-month-old infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and those with low risk. Infants were considered to be at risk if they had an older sibling with a confirmed ASD diagnosis.
Cries were categorized as either pain related or non-pain related based on observations of the videotapes. At-risk infants produced pain related cries with higher and more variable fundamental frequency (commonly referred to as “pitch”) as compared to low-risk infants. A small number of the at-risk infants were later diagnosed with an ASD at 36 months of age. The cries for these babies had among the highest fundamental frequency values and also differed in other acoustic characteristics.
“These findings demonstrate the potential of this approach for babies as young as six months of age,” said Dr. Sheinkopf.
The Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk was established at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital in 2005. The mission of the Center is to stimulate outstanding interdisciplinary research, education and clinical services on the biological and social factors that determine the developmental outcome of at-risk children.
About Women & Infants Hospital
Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island (http://www.womenandinfants.org/
New England’s premier hospital for women and newborns, Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s only mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.
Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Center of Excellence from the American College of Radiography;