Study: Children With Autism Have More Brain Cells

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Could the key to autism be in brain cells?

Specifically-- in the number of brain cells.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego say-- maybe.

"What we discovered was there's 67% over-abundance of brain cells in this part of brain. That's a very large number."

The researchers looked at postmortem brain tissue from seven young boys with autism and six boys without. They were especially interested in the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.(Video: YouTube/UCtelevision)

According to CNN, that part is...

"...responsible for social, emotional, communication and language development. Having too many neurons or nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls the very features that children with autism struggle with may explain the origin of autism."

So how would the overabundance of brain cells contribute to autism? TIME explains...

"...the autistic children may have been suffering from a dearth of proper nerve connections since the overabundance of neurons may have led to difficulty in their ability to connect and communicate with each other."

But excessive brain cells wasn't the only discovery these researchers made. One of the study's authors tells WABC-- they also found evidence that autism begins in the womb.

"So in the sub-group, it seems much less likely that something after birth when it contributed to the autism."

USA Today says this study helps narrow down the areas autism researchers need to explore. "...[the study] should help focus researchers looking for its causes or triggers, including specific genes or prenatal exposures."

But experts also point out the study was small-- and more research is needed in the area.

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