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Everything You Need to Know About a New Saliva Test That May Detect Autism in Kids as Young as 18 Months

Clarifi is an easily administered test to help diagnose autism spectrum disorder in young children.

Clarifi is a breakthrough diagnostic tool for parents and physicians that can help determine if a young child may be on the autism spectrum. It is a non-invasive molecular test that examines the saliva from a cheek swab to look for gene expression modifications which may be responsible for autism spectrum disorder. Clarifi sequences and analyzes saliva using a state-of-the-art algorithm to distinguish between typically developing children, children with developmental delays not related to autism, and children on the autism spectrum.

What is Autism?

Autism affects an estimated one in 150 people, affecting their social skills and resulting in repetitive behaviors and communication difficulties. The causes of this disorder are unclear in most people who have symptoms. It can be a difficult disorder to diagnose because medical tests, such as blood tests, are ineffective, leaving doctors to rely on a child’s behavior and development for a diagnosis.

Although children are not typically diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder until 4.5 years old on average, Clarifi can help doctors determine a child's risk much sooner than that. Clarifi is validated for at-risk children from the ages of 18 months through 6 years and once the test is administered, results are sent 3 to 6 weeks later. When at-risk children are diagnosed early, treatments can begin at a younger age when they are most effective. These medical interventions can improve the outcomes of autistic children and help to reduce their symptoms.

How Does Clarifi Work?

Research has suggested that bacteria living in the gut may influence autistic behavior. Autistic children have a disrupted gastrointestinal system and this disruption may extend to the throat and mouth, often resulting in the characteristic texture and taste aversions. Clarifi can analyze the gene expression activity in autistic children's saliva and accurately identify them as likely to be on the autistic spectrum. This test should be used in combination with traditional behavioral and developmental assessments to provide more confidence in an autism diagnosis.

How Do I Get My Child Tested and What’s the Cost?

Speak to your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns about autism symptoms. Once Clarifi is available to the public later this year, your child’s doctor can order and administer the test. Although insurance companies will not yet pay for the more than $900 price tag, this may change in the future as more children are tested. Visit the Clarifi website to learn more information and receive a notification when the test is available.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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