Philip Baker from the University of Aukland in New Zealand will determine whether the presence of specific metabolites in a mother's hair during pregnancy can be used as an early marker of defective neurodevelopment in the child. Early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism could lead to better treatment. Because hair stably incorporates chemical compounds, they will use samples of maternal hair from a previous study to search for metabolic markers such as fatty acids and amino acids that may correlate with subsequent developmental defects in the infants. The resulting predictive algorithm will be validated in a new study of over 1000 pregnant women from Malawi and Western China.
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