A new study published in the journal Nature Communications discovered a possible cause of autism. Scientists identified higher levels of toxic lead in the baby teeth of children suffering from autism. Also, their teeth also contained less manganese and zinc, nutrients which are essential for the well-being of the child.
Researchers discovered that environmental conditions might play an important role in the development of autism, which most likely starts while the baby is still in the womb. However, the condition is usually diagnosed around the age of 3, when it is hard to identify what the mother has been exposed to.
Lead, zinc, and manganese influence autism development
Researchers found a solution, and discovered that baby teeth can provide them with the answers they need. By analyzing these teeth, researches can tell the substances babies have been exposed to during early life. With the help of lasers, they analyzed the growth rings in teeth and found a link between metal exposure and autism.
Therefore, they discovered autistic children had higher lead levels in their teeth after birth. On the other hand, they recorded low manganese levels, both before and after birth. Zinc levels were also different from non-autistic children. Before birth, they recorded low zinc levels, which then increased after the child was born.
Researchers studied the teeth of twins
For the study, researchers analyzed the teeth of pairs of twins, as well as of single twins. They compared several patterns, since the pairs were mixed between twins who both suffered from autism, twins where none suffered from autism, or only one of the kids was autistic. The differences in metal levels were much higher if only one of the twins had autism.
Previous studies also suggested that exposing the child to toxic metals during pregnancy or early childhood can affect his cognitive development. Also, precarious intake of nutrients like manganese may also contribute to such issues.
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