Toxic metals in children associated with severity of autism

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  • Published: Mar 1, 2013
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: X-ray Spectrometry / Base Peak / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / MRI Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / NMR Knowledge Base / Atomic / Raman / Proteomics / Infrared Spectroscopy

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The levels of several toxic metals in autistic children correlate with the degree of severity of the disease, say US researchers. In a multicentre study, James Adams from Arizona State University, and colleagues, used ICPMS to measure the levels of eleven metals in whole blood, red blood cells and urine of 55 autistic children aged 5-16 (49 boys and 6 girls). The results were compared with the values for 44 control children of similar age and gender.

These matrices were selected because urine is a measure of exposure over several days, red blood cells over several months and whole blood for an intermediate period since it comprises serum (short-term) and cellular (long-term) components. The levels of several metals differed between autistic and control children. Lead was higher in the red blood cells and urine of autistic children and thallium, tin and tungsten were also higher in urine. Cadmium was lower in the whole blood of autistic children.

The results correlated with the severity of autism assessed using three different scales: pervasive developmental disorder behavior inventory, autism treatment evaluation checklist, and severity of autism scale. Writing in Biological Trace Element Research, Adams concluded "We hypothesize that reducing early exposure to toxic metals may help to prevent or ameliorate autism, and treatment to remove toxic metals may help reduce some of the symptoms of autism, although much more research is needed to investigate these hypotheses."

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