Authors: Eleonor Blaurock-Busch, Omnia R. Amin, Hani H. Dessoki, and Thanaa Rabah
Background: Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental syndrome with onset prior to age 36 months. Diagnostic criteria consist of impairments in sociality and communication plus repetitive and stereotypic behaviour. Traits strongly associated with autism include movement disorders and sensory dysfunctions. Although autism may be apparent soon after birth, most autistic children experience at least several months, even a year or more of normal development, followed by regression and defined as loss of function or failure to progress.
The objective of this study was to assess the levels of ten toxic metals and essential elements in hair samples of children with autism, and to correlate the level of these elements with the severity of autism.
Results/Conclusion: By comparing hair concentration of autistic vs nonautistic children, elevated hair concentrations were noted for aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, antimony, nickel, lead, and vanadium. Hair levels of calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, zinc, and selenium were considered deficient. There was a significant positive correlation between lead & verbal communication (p = 0.020) and general impression (p = 0.008). In addition, there was a significant negative correlation between zinc & fear and nervousness (p = 0.022).
Our data supports the historic evidence that heavy metals play a role in the development of ASD. In combination with an inadequate nutritional status the toxic effect of metals increase along with the severity of symptoms.