Analyses of toxic metals and essential minerals in the hair of Arizona children with autism and associated conditions, and their mothers

James Adams, C. E. Holloway, F. George, D. Quig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

The objective of this study was to assess the levels of 39 toxic metals and essential minerals in hair samples of children with autism spectrum disorders and their mothers compared to controls. Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry was used to analyze the elemental content of the hair of children with autism spectrum disorders (n=51), a subset of their mothers (n=29), neurotypical children (n=40), and a subset of their mothers (n=25). All participants were recruited from Arizona. Iodine levels were 45% lower in the children with autism (p=0.005). Autistic children with pica had a 38% lower level of chromium (p=0.002). Autistic children with low muscle tone had very low levels of potassium (-66%, p=0.01) and high zinc (31%, p=0.01). The mothers of young children with autism had especially low levels of lithium (56% lower, p=0.005), and the young children (ages 3-6 yr) with autism also had low lithium (-30%, p=0.04). Low iodine levels are consistent with previous reports of abnormal thyroid function, which likely affected development of speech and cognitive skills. Low lithium in the mothers likely caused low levels of lithium in the young children, which could have affected their neurological and immunological development. Further investigations of iodine, lithium, and other elements are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-209
Number of pages17
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Volume110
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Hair analysis
  • Iodine
  • Lithium
  • Potassium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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