Babies with autism can be identified by listening to the noises they make, scientists have discovered.
Research has shown that the babbling of infants with the disorder is not the same as that of normal children.
Scientists were able to use automated vocal analysis technology to spot the differences with 86% accuracy.
The system was also able to single out very young children with impaired language development.
Professor Steven Warren, an expert in autism spectrum disorders at the University of Kansas, US, who took part in the study, said: “This technology could help paediatricians screen children for ASD (autism spectrum disorder) to determine if a referral to a specialist for a full diagnosis is required and get those children into earlier and more effective treatments.”
Autism is the name given to a group, or “spectrum”, of lifelong developmental conditions characterised by an inability to communicate with a lack of social skills and repetitive behaviour.
An estimated 500,000 people in the UK are believed to be affected by autism.