A saliva sample test may help diagnose autism faster in children

Researchers at Upstate Medical University in the United States are close to releasing a test that could help diagnose autism earlier. The test uses saliva samples.

Saliva sampling has many advantages over blood sampling, This is especially for children with autism spectrum disorder because of the difficulties in getting access to a blood vessel. Having children with autism sit still is hard.

The saliva contains microRNA. Examining a child's microRNA may give clues about brain function.

All that the test needs are a swab, which is obtained by holding it in the floor of the mouth for about five seconds. The swab is held to each side of the mouth, and that is adequate.

Currently there is no medical test available for autism. For the diagnosis, parents typically go through a screening, or questionnaire about their child's behavior. The next step is a full evaluation, but the wait time can be more than a year.

Instead the time saved by a saliva sampling could be used for intervention and making a difference on a developing brain, say experts.

The prototype saliva test would not replace a full exam but may help a child with autism get the resources they need, faster.

The test will be launched in 2018 across the United States.

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