Scientists at Yale say they may be able to diagnose a child's risk of autism at birth by looking at the placenta.
Abnormal folds in the placenta allowed researchers to identify whether a newborn's sibling had autism.
If the abnormal folds were found, the child was nine times more likely to develop autism.
Diagnosing autism at a very young age would mean earlier intervention and the potential for better outcomes for children with the disorder.
"Their goal is to do it as early as possible," said the study's senior author, Dr. Harvey Kliman, a research scientist in the department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine. "Before, there was no way to identify them at birth, so I think this is the holy grail toward doing that."
The journal Biological Psychiatry published the study online Thursday.