BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

Researchers using dirty diapers to develop new autism test

Sep 28, 2022, 6:00 PM

Researchers at Brigham Young University are using dirty diapers to try and detect autism in children earlier. Photo credit: Deseret News.

PROVO, Utah — A group of researchers at Brigham Young University is looking for ways to detect autism in children earlier. And they’re using dirty diapers to do it. 

Associate Professor Dr. Rebecca Lundwall is hoping to find a new way to test for autism in younger kids. 

She’s collecting samples from dirty diapers to help find links between what’s in that diaper and what’s going on in the brain. 

“Some of the biproducts of the bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract, produce precursors to neurotransmitters that act on your brain,” Lundwall said. 

Lundwall is hoping this could be used in the future to develop a biological test for autism in young children. 

“I really feel like I would have made a big difference in the world if we can catch these kids earlier, get them the kind of help they need. So that they can live full, happy lives,” Lundwall said. “That would just make me so happy.” 

She’s asking for families with toddlers to help join their study.

They are need of several control families with toddlers with no known relatives with autism.

Participants would not actually send any dirty diapers into the mail. Dr. Lundwall says they will mail parents special collection equipment. 

To take part, email the research team at: cogndevelopment@gmail.com

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Researchers using dirty diapers to develop new autism test