Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Infant brain scan for schizophrenia

In a rush this morning, so I don't have time to find the links, but I've talked several times about being able in the future to scan newborns' brains and find signs of mental illness, so that early intervention means the first day. Well it's here. They found characteristic signs of schizophrenia in the brains of babies a few weeks old.

So the problems I talked about are here now.

  • How do you treat a kid you know to be at high risk of some mental illness. One presumes medication will be involved, but do you treat the kid differently? For schizophrenia, probably not. For autism, maybe. Maybe knowing at birth that a kid has, say, 90% chance of becoming autistic, do you arrange the kid's room or experiences in a way not to trigger it? I don't know. How about a kid with the gene for uncontrollable aggression? Do you treat them the same way you treat another kid who smacks a playmate? I don't know, but we should be thinking about it.
  • Not every kid with these characteristic brain signs will develop schizophrenia, or probably whatever is being tested for. If there is a 90% chance of some bad thing, do you risk screwing up the 10% who don't have it by treating them as though they do? I don't know.

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