Piloting Electrophysiologic Markers for ASD and Related Disorders in Premature and Low Birthweight Infants

Short Title

Rutgers University

Project Description

Identifying children with ASD at the earliest age possible and providing effective treatment is needed to improve the lives of those affected by the disorder. Since ASD is a set of behavior features that appear after brain changes, scientists must look for biomarkers that can identify risk before the behavioral symptoms emerge. We have exciting research findings to suggest that the use of simple brain function measures might be the answer. Our proposed project will use the latest technology of EEG to monitor changes in brain function over time in preterm and low birth weight infants followed in a developmental clinic at our hospital. We will use sophisticated analytic measures to determine which features can identify risk for ASD and related disorders. This would be an important step in improving screening and diagnosis for ASD. Once reliable biomarkers are identified, scientists can then look at how to prevent the disorder and how to improve treatments for those affected. This project has the potential to make a direct clinical impact for those affected by the disorder.

Selection Criteria

  • Infants born under 2500g AND/ OR Infants born less than or equal to 35 weeks.

  • Admitted to the NICU at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

  • Mothers must be over the age of 18.

  • Mothers must be fluent in English.

  • Infants must not have a vision impairment or known immune disorder.

  • Be referred to the High-Risk Developmental Assessment Program (HRDAP).

What's Involved

  • GROUP 1: Recruited from the NICU. Amplitude EEG done before Discharge. Follow up visits include an EEG at 6 months and 12 months corrected age.

  • GROUP 2: Recruited from HRDAP. EEG testing done at 12 months and 24 months corrected age.

  • What is an EEG? This is where a flexible cap is placed on your child’s head for 10 minutes to obtain a reading. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you're asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on an EEG recording. Our EEG technology is wireless so your child can move about freely during the testing.


At the end of the study, all families will receive a $25 gift card
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Team Members

Barbie Zimmerman-Bier
Principal Investigator
(201) 621-2246

Andrew Walrond
Project Coordinator
(732) 235-7169

Alexa Sacchi
Research Assistant
(732) 235-7169

Contact Info

(732) 235-7900
89 French Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901