Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a phenotypically and etiologically heterogeneous developmental disorder typically diagnosed around 4 years of age. The development of biomarkers to help in earlier, presymptomatic diagnosis could facilitate earlier identification and therefore earlier intervention and may lead to better outcomes, as well as providing information to help better understand the underlying mechanisms of ASD. In this study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of infants at high familial risk, from the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS), at 6, 12 and 24 months of age were included in a morphological analysis, fitting a mixed-effects model to Tensor Based Morphometry (TBM) results to obtain voxel-wise growth trajectories. Subjects were grouped by familial risk and clinical diagnosis at 2 years of age. Several regions, including the posterior cingulate gyrus, the cingulum, the fusiform gyrus, and the precentral gyrus, showed a significant effect for the interaction of group and age associated with ASD, either as an increased or a decreased growth rate of the cerebrum. In general, our results showed increased growth rate within white matter with decreased growth rate found mostly in grey matter. Overall, the regions showing increased growth rate were larger and more numerous than those with decreased growth rate. These results detail, at the voxel level, differences in brain growth trajectories in ASD during the first years of life, previously reported in terms of overall brain volume and surface area.
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