Clinical research: Facial features can help diagnose autism

The presence of any of three abnormal physical features — an asymmetrical face, tufts of hair growing in the wrong direction or a prominent forehead — can help diagnose autism, according to a study published 6 June in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders1.

A more precise picture of the pattern of dysmorphic features in autism could provide the basis for a screening tool for the disorder.

In a 2011 study, researchers compared the physical features of 224 children with autism with 224 controls matched in pairs by age and gender. They found 48 features, such as deeply set eyes, expressionless faces and thin upper lips, that are more common in children with autism than in controls.

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