Abnormalities in how brain cells connect to each other may be a contributing factor to autism.
A study at Children's Hospital Boston has discovered visual evidence associating autism with a disorganised structure of brain connections, as well as defects in myelin.
Researchers used advanced magnetic resonance imaging to map the brains of 40 patients with tuberous sclerosis complex and 29 age-matched healthy controls.
Dr Mustafa Sahin, leader of the study, stated: "Our ultimate goal is to use imaging in infancy to find which tuberous sclerosis patients are at high risk for autism so we can intervene early."
A recent small study also suggests that the number of neurons a child possess and their brain weight contributes to autism development.
According to researchers, those with autism have an average 67 per cent more prefrontal brain neurons and larger than average brain weight than children without autism.
Brain and head overgrowth in autism patients and neural dysfunction is evident at young ages in multiple brain regions.
Find out about Barchester's support for adults and children with a wide range of Autistic spectrum conditions.