Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 911-916

First online:

Can Bronchoscopic Airway Anatomy Be an Indicator of Autism?

  • Barbara A. StewartAffiliated withPediatric Pulmonary Department, Children’s Health Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center Email author 
  • , Amar J. S. KlarAffiliated withGene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, National Institutes of Health

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Bronchoscopic evaluations revealed that some children have double branching of bronchi (designated “doublets”) in the lower lungs airways, rather than normal, single branching. Retrospective analyses revealed only one commonality in them: all subjects with doublets also had autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That is, 49 subjects exhibited the presence of initial normal anatomy in upper airway followed by doublets in the lower airway. In contrast, the normal branching pattern was noted in all the remaining 410 subjects who did not have a diagnosis of autism/ASD. We propose that the presence of doublets might be an objective, reliable, and valid biologic marker of autism/ASD.


Autism Autism spectrum disorder etiology Doublets Airway double branching Airway anomaly