DENVER (KDVR) — A new test for autism is in development that could use a single strand of hair to search for biomarkers in very young children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about one in 44 children in the United States are now diagnosed with autism and the goal of the diagnostic aid would be early intervention.

The tool is in the early stages of development and does not have federal approval, but it is intriguing to local doctors and families.

Jennifer Korb is the Executive Director of Autism Society of Colorado. Her son, Hayden, was diagnosed with autism when he was younger and she says early intervention was key.

“He just did the school musical, he plays the baritone, he is an incredible kid,” Korb said.

She says getting an autism diagnosis can be tricky and it can take months just to get an appointment.

“We waited almost a year for our diagnosis to get our son help,” she said. 

But now a company named Linus Biotechnology is developing a diagnostic aid that uses a single strand of hair to search for biomarkers and exposures. The test could one day help identify an at-risk child or even infant before symptoms develop.

“The best possible predictor of success for people with autism is early intervention. So, if a test like this can get you to early intervention quicker and faster, I think that is an incredible opportunity,” Korb said.

But she hopes that a test like that would be used only as an aid in diagnosis, in conjunction with other methodologies.

“I think the research is interesting,” said Dr. Chris Rogers, a child psychiatrist and the Medical Director at HealthONE Behavioral Health and Wellness Center in Aurora.

“There’s never been anything convincing that we could say, ‘this causes autism,'” he pointed out.

So, while a peer review of the research showed good accuracy of predicting autism, Dr. Rogers urges caution.

“I want to make sure that we know what we are talking about before we start advertising we’re going to be able to diagnose autism at one years old. I think we’re not there yet,” he said.

The US Food and Drug Administration granted Breakthrough Device Designation to the Linus Biotechnology StrandDx-ASD.