Higher Levels Of Toxic Metals In The Bodies Of Children With Autism, Research Finds

New research from Arizona State University has revealed that children who are diagnosed with autism have considerably higher levels of numerous toxic metals in their blood and urine than compared to children not diagnosed with autism. The research was done by comparing fifty-five children diagnosed with autism, aged five to sixteen years old, with forty-four children of the same age and gender but not diagnosed with autism.


“The autism group had significantly higher levels of lead in their red blood cells (+41 percent) and significantly higher urinary levels of lead (+74 percent), thallium (+77 percent), tin (+115 percent), and tungsten (+44 percent). Lead, thallium, tin, and tungsten are toxic metals that can impair brain development and function, and also interfere with the normal functioning of other body organs and systems.”

The researchers then conducted a statistical analysis to find out if the levels of these toxic metals present in the body fluids corresponded with the severity of autism. “It was found that 38-47 percent of the variation of autism severity was associated with the level of several toxic metals, with cadmium and mercury being the most strongly associated.”

The study authors state “We hypothesize that reducing early exposure to toxic metals may help ameliorate symptoms of autism, and treatment to remove toxic metals may reduce symptoms of autism; these hypotheses need further exploration, as there is a growing body of research to support it.”

Mercury pollution is a growing problem throughout much of the world, along with the pollution of a great many other toxic metals and chemicals commonly used in the industrial and manufacturing industries. Overall global contamination levels of many of the metals mentioned in this study have have rising significantly in recent decades.

Previous work done by this research group has focused on the use of DMSA, which is an FDA-approved medication that works to remove toxic metals from the body. “The open-label study found that DMSA was generally safe and effective at removing some toxic metals. It also found that DMSA therapy improved some symptoms of autism. The biggest improvement was for children with the highest levels of toxic metals in their urine.”

Which suggests that the drug may be more effective in reducing the body’s uptake of these toxic metals when they are still being exposed to them, than in dealing with an accumulation of these metals in the body. Obviously the best solution is to limit the use of these metals, and reduce the pollution that contains them.

In conclusion, “children with autism have higher average levels of several toxic metals, and levels of several toxic metals are strongly associated with variations in the severity of autism for all three of the autism severity scales investigated.”

The new research was published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research.

Source: Arizona State University

Image Credits: Baby at Play via Wikimedia Commons

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