Tecnología de seguimiento de ojos promete diagnóstico más precoz del autismo

Aunque la tecnología no es tan simple, el sistema de seguimiento de ojos creado con el apoyo de los Institutos Nacionales de la Salud (NIH, por sus siglas en inglés) por la investigadora Karen Pierce, Ph.D., y su equipo, está allanando el camino para crear una herramienta más simple y económica de diagnóstico temprano de los trastornos del espectro autista (TEA). 

La Dra. Pierce trabaja en el Centro de Excelencia para el Autismo de la Universidad de California en San Diego. Su laboratorio recibe fondos del Instituto Nacional de Salud Mental (NIMH), uno de los Institutos Nacionales de la Salud. 

La herramienta de detección, conocida como prueba GeoPref, usa luz infrarroja para seguir el movimiento de los ojos de un bebé mientras observa imágenes con formas geométricas en movimiento. 

La herramienta ha ayudado a diagnosticar correctamente a bebés autistas de sólo doce meses de edad, y en sólo minutos en vez de horas. 

La importancia del diagnóstico temprano 

Aunque los descubrimientos de la Dra. Pierce y otros investigadores indican que el autismo se puede diagnosticar al primer o segundo año de vida, en Estados Unidos la edad promedio del diagnóstico sigue siendo cuatro años. 

Esto puede hacerse más tarde aún en ciertas minorías raciales y étnicas y en comunidades marginadas, dice Lisa Gilotty, Ph.D. 

La Dra. Gilotty es la jefa del programa de investigación de trastornos del espectro autista del Instituto Nacional de Salud Mental (en inglés)

Antes de su trabajo actual como supervisora de los fondos de investigación del autismo en el Instituto Nacional de Salud Mental, la Dra. Gilotty estudió el trastorno por varias décadas y está dedicada a ayudar a los más de tres millones y medio de estadounidenses viviendo con autismo. 

Una inquietud importante de los investigadores es ayudar a que los niños con autismo reciban apoyo rápido, para ello el diagnóstico precoz es clave. 

Para los padres que creen que su hijo puede tener un trastorno del espectro autista, la Dra. Pierce dice que algunos signos comunes que se deben observar incluyen si el niño tiene actividades o intereses limitados, o movimientos corporales repetitivos como aletear las manos o golpear las muñecas. 

Otros signos incluyen una menor atención compartida con los padres. Algunos ejemplos de atención compartida son mirar lo mismo que la madre o el padre, o fijarse si los padres lo están mirando mientras juega. Los niños con trastornos del espectro autista tienen dificultad con estos tipos de atención conjunta y suelen mostrar retraso en hacer cosas como señalar objetos, lo cual es importante para orientar la atención de otras personas. 

«Otra señal temprana es la dificultad para divertirse con personas diferentes de los padres, por ejemplo, al jugar a esconderse o al hacerle cosquillas. La mayoría de los niños muestran que se están divirtiendo, pero a los niños autistas les cuesta jugar y divertirse con personas que no sean sus padres», añade la Dra. Pierce. 

Si los padres sospechan que su hijo tiene autismo, la Dra. Pierce recalca la importancia de ver al pediatra uotro profesional de la salud. 

fuente:https://magazine.medlineplus.gov/es/art%C3%ADculo/tecnologia-de-seguimiento-de-ojos-promete-diagnostico-mas-precoz-del-autismo

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