Taking Cues From the Eyes of Autistic Babies

Babies with autism spend less time looking into the eyes.
2:07 | 11/06/13

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Transcript for Taking Cues From the Eyes of Autistic Babies
the confounding mystery that is autism. We know eye contact can be a risk in young children. Now researchers say it's possible newborns can send a settle warning that they might have trouble ahead. Dr. Richard besser explains. Reporter: Autistic children don't read emotions, faces, well. How could a baby tell you that? Watch where the baby's eyes go. That's the key to today's autism study. At emory university, eye-tracking software shows what this little guy is looking at. See where the "x" is? That's his focus. What this study shows us is that there are changes already happening that wouldn't be detectable to the naked eye. Reporter: They studied a group of 36 children, starting at just two months old. Three years later, they found out which ones had developed autism. Turns out, the children with autism by six months old spent less and less time looking at the eyes. The bigger the change, the more profound the autism was. The earlier we diagnose, the earlier we intervene, the better the long-term outcome. Reporter: Previous research in boston has used eye-tracking to show that babies take emotional cues from faces. From eyes. What we're seeing is three emotions, neutral, happy and fear. Reporter: We know older children with autism don't make eye contact. Now technology has given us a way to identify autism's earliest clues. What's really exciting about this research is the possibility of detecting autism before a parent or doctor sees any signs. As a pediatrician I would never be able to see these subtle signs but this eye tracking can do that. You're going to have so many fearful parents tonight studying their children and looking for every move. Little babies are looking all over the place. What they're looking at here is subtle changes, the percentage of time they're looking at various parts of the face. It's not something that as a parent you're going to be ashl to see. Your child's doctor is going to be screening all along the way for the real signs. Do not make any assumptions about what you are seeing. Don't do that. Thank you richard besser,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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