What if... an eye test could screen babies for FASD?

NeuroDevNet (NCE)

Queen’s University graduate student and Mitacs Accelerate intern Carmela Paolozza tests a young child using SR Research’s EyeLink eye-tracking technology. Photo credit: Katelyn Verstraten

NeuroDevNet-supported researchers have made two groundbreaking discoveries that could lead to a less expensive and faster screening tool to identify young children, and even infants, with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and other neurological and psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson’s disease and autism. In a global first, the Queen’s University team showed that children exposed to alcohol before birth have less control over their eye movements than typically developing children. They then collaborated on the development of analysis tools that allow an eye-tracking system made by Canada’s SR Research Ltd. to be used as a high-performance, low-cost screening tool. Hundreds of children from across Canada have already participated in these studies, and new research is examining if the same approaches can be used in infants as young as 12 months. Early detection and intervention can significantly improve a child’s quality of life and reduce health care costs.

From the perspective of SR Research, the FASD discovery can not only save years of frustration in the lives of patients, and give them hope for leading more fulfilling lives, but it represents a potential new market opportunity for our company. It is our hope that NeuroDevNet will be instrumental in bringing together researchers with industry to prove the concept and produce the rigorous evidence needed to help bring a screening product to market.William Schmidt, Director of Sales, SR Research Ltd.