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Correlation between Heavy Metals and Autism Tightens

By Stacy W. Kish on March 21, 2013


Background: Scientists have long questioned if toxic levels of heavy metals are a potential cause of autism. Eleveted concentration of heavy metals—like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic—in the body may result from increased exposure, increased absorption by the body, or the inability to excrete the toxic metals.


What’s new: A group of scientists at Arizona State University compared the level of 11 heavy metals in autistic and typical children to assess the link between heavy metals and autism. Researchers determined that autistic subjects in the study had higher levels of lead in the red blood cell samples and higher concentrations of thallium, tungsten, lead, and tin in urine samples. The study reported that greater levels of several heavy metals correlate with increased autism severity.


Why it’s important: While it is tempting to speculate that autism is caused by heavy metal exposure, this study only presents an interesting correlation between heavy metal levels in the body and the severity of autism. The findings from this study suggest that research to explore if heavy metal exposure is a contributing factor in autism is warranted, with the potential benefit of new prevention and therapy strategies.

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