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10 early warning signs of autism

When it comes to good health, moms have it better in some countries than in others. Where's the absolute worst place to be a mother? If you guessed Afghanistan, you're right. With one in five kids in that war-torn nation dying before age five, just about every Afghan mom is likely to suffer the loss of a child. But in which nations do moms enjoy the greatest well-being? Save the Children recently issued a report ranking 164 countries according to the well-being of mothers and children. Keep clicking to find out the top 15 finishers - and keep your eyes peeled for the good ole USA... istockphoto

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"Could my child have autism?" With one in 88 children being diagnosed with autism, according to the CDC's latest estimate, that's what many new parents want to know. Autism is generally not diagnosed until age three, but signs of developmental delay can begin to appear as early as six months of age.

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According to Dr. Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md., parents have the power to spot red flags of autism in its earliest form.

What are the signs of autism in infants 6 months to 1 year old? Keep clicking to find out...

10 early warning signs of autism

Insurers can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Also, parents can keep their adult children on their health plans until age 26. iStockphoto

1. Rarely smiles when approached by caregivers

Infants typically smile when smiled at, but babies with developmental delays often don't respond to smiles from caregivers.

10 early warning signs of autism

Dad's got it covered istockphoto

2. Rarely imitates expressions

father, son, dad, kid, boy, parentInfant does not try to imitate sounds and movements others make, such as smiling and laughing, during simple social exchanges.

10 early warning signs of autism

Googoo-gaagaa isn't just cute. It's a toddler's way of letting you know that language skills are developing. If a child doesn't babble by six months - or keeps babbling beyond the age when he/she should have started using words - he/she may have autism or a similar problem. istockphoto

3. Delayed or infrequent babbling

mom, son, sad, no talking, autismBy six months of age, most babies start babbling or produce repetitive syllables.

10 early warning signs of autism

By six months of age, a child should be quick to look up when someone calls his/her name. Does your child fail to look up when called - or look up only some of the time? That's a red flag. istockphoto

4. Does not respond to his or her name

kid, baby, boy, child, no hearing, hears no evilAn infant should generally respond to his or her name with increasing consistency from 6 to 12 months of age. Lack of responsiveness to one's name is a sign of developmental delay.

10 early warning signs of autism

fat, scary, angry, mean, obese, baby istockphoto

5. Does not gesture to communicate

fat, scary, angry, mean, obese, babyBy 10 months of age, an infant should begin to communicate through gestures.

10 early warning signs of autism


6. Poor eye contact

newborn, baby, face, closeup, stock, 4x3Most children with autism shy away from eye contact. Lack of eye contact is therefore a common warning sign parents should look out for.

10 early warning signs of autism


7. Seeks your attention infrequently

Infants exhibiting this developmental delay express less reliance on parents' care and attention.

10 early warning signs of autism

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8. Unusual body movements

Infants who may later be diagnosed with autism may repeatedly stiffen their arms, hands, or legs. They may also display unusual body movements, such as rotating the hands on the wrists, uncommon postures, or other repetitive behaviors.

10 early warning signs of autism

baby crib iStockphoto

9. Does not reach up when parents try to pick him or her up

When parents reach for their children to pick them up or to hold them, infants generally respond by reaching back up toward the parents.

10 early warning signs of autism

Any kind of medicine or vitamin can cause harm if taken in the wrong way - even medicine you can buy without a prescription. That means all pills and bottles should be kept in storage places too high for a child to reach or even see. istockphoto

10. Delays in motor development

baby, crawling, reaching, stock, 4x3

These delays include slowed rolling over, pushing up, and crawling.

"If parents suspect something is wrong with their child's development, or that their child is losing skills, they should talk to their pediatrician or another developmental expert," Dr. Landa said in a statement. "Don't adopt a 'wait and see' perspective. We want to identify delays early in development so that intervention can begin when children's brains are more malleable and still developing their circuitry."

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