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Infant Brain Imaging Study
Funded by the National Institutes of Health

UW Autism Center

What is the purpose of this study?

Drs. Stephen R. Dager and Annette Estes, researchers at the University of Washington, want to learn more about brain development in young siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The information gained in this study may improve methods of early detection, improve intervention for infants who may be at risk for developing autism, and lead to better outcome for young children and their families.

What does participation in the study mean?

  • Developmental assessments at the University of Washington Autism Center for 6- to 12-month-old siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder and comprehensive follow-up evaluations at 12 and 24 months of age.
  • Developmental screening for the older sibling with ASD.
  • Completion of questionnaires and phone interviews for parents.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

What is the time commitment for participation in the study?

You will be asked to complete several questionnaires, respond to a number of questions over the phone and participate in assessment visits at the UW Autism Center when your infant is six, 12, and 24 months old. At each time point, the questionnaires will take approximately two hours, each phone call lasts approximately two hours, and we will ask that you schedule two 90-minute visits to the UW Autism Center. You will also be asked to bring your child to Seattle Children’s Hospital for an MRI scan at each age point (6, 12, and 24 months). Each completed MRI scanning session takes approximately two hours.

Inclusion Criteria:

Your family may participate if you have:

  • a child who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, AND
  • a younger sibling six months old or younger

Exclusion Criteria:

Certain medical and genetic exclusions apply.


Participation in the study includes two phone calls to determine if this study is a good fit for your family, completion of several questionnaires about your children (both the child with an ASD and the one(s) without) and both parents, and a visit to the UW Autism Center on the UW Medical Center campus. The visit to the UW Autism Center will include diagnostic, cognitive, and language assessments for your child with an ASD and interviews with one parent. Additionally, we will collect photos, measurements, and a blood sample from your children and both parents.

What will my family get out of the study?

  • All families will receive developmental evaluations of their infant at 6, 12, and 24 months along with a detailed clinical report.
  • All families will receive advice regarding appropriate intervention services if needed.
  • Information regarding your children’s developmental profile can be used in educational planning.
  • Advice and referral information regarding your child’s development will be provided if needed.
  • You will receive compensation for study-related costs (e.g. parking) and a $75 check at each age point (six, 12, and 24 months).

What are the risks of participating in this study, and what safeguards are in place to minimize any risks?

This study is approved by a human subjects committee at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington, and all efforts are made to minimize any potential risks. Psychological and behavioral testing of your child may reveal difficulties with language, cognitive development, or socialization, as well as a diagnosis of an ASD at 24 months of age. This information will be shared with you along with any follow-up recommendations identified. Similarly, although no clinically significant brain structural findings are expected, all MRIs will be evaluated by a board-certified pediatric neuroradiologist, and you will be informed of any clinically significant findings with appropriate follow-up recommendations.

Principal Investigators:

Steven Dager, PhD, Principal Investigator
Annette Estes, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Network Behavioral Assessment

Whom should I contact to get involved?

This is a network project involving researchers at six other academic institutions throughout North America. Additional IBIS information is available at

To learn more about any of our studies, please contact our project scheduler at 1.800.994.9701.

IBISUniversity of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital
Infant Brain Imaging Study
Box 357920, Seattle, WA 98195

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