Children with autism have markedly higher levels of toxic metals in their bodies than typical kids, a new study has found.
Arizona State University researchers who conducted the study, published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research, said the findings indicate reducing early exposure to toxic metals may help lessen symptoms of autism. But they cautioned that the potential connection needs to be studied in greater detail.
"We hypothesize that reducing early exposure to toxic metals may help ameliorate symptoms of autism,” the researchers concluded, “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."
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For the study, the Arizona State investigators examined several toxic metals in the blood and urine of 55 children with autism — 5 years of age — and compared them to 44 healthy kids.
The results showed the autism group had significantly higher levels of lead in their blood (41 percent) and urine (74 percent). They also had higher levels of thallium (77 percent), tin (115 percent), and tungsten (44 percent). All four substances are toxic metals that can impair brain development and function, and interfere with the normal functioning of other body organs and systems.
Lead researcher James Adams, director of the ASU Autism/Asperger's Research Program,
has previously found that the use of DMSA, a federally-approved medication for removing toxic metals, was generally safe and effective at removing some toxic metals. It also found that DMSA therapy improved some symptoms of autism, particularly among children with the highest levels of toxic metals in their urine.
The new study was funded by the Autism Research Institute and the Legacy Foundation.
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