Researchers are now claiming that baby teeth might provide clues as to what causes autism. And yes, many of you will find their findings to be, well, ironic.
A new study published in Nature Communications shows that exposure to various metals, such as lead and zinc, might be linked to the autism. Yes, toxic metals. Yes, they went there.
The study was led by Manish Arora, Ph.D., an environmental scientist and dentist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. They used 32 pairs of twins. They wanted to discover it toxic metal exposure increased their risk of autism. Clearly, using twins helps to keep DNA and genetic segments consistent.
“We think autism begins very early, most likely in the womb, and research suggests that our environment can increase a child’s risk. But by the time children are diagnosed at age 3 or 4, it’s hard to go back and know what the moms were exposed to,” Cindy Lawler, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Genes, Environment, and Health Branch, said in a statement released today. “With baby teeth, we can actually do that.”
The researchers used laser to extract layers from the baby’s teeth. They then performed metal analysis on the teeth.
According to ABC News:
Of these 32 pairs of twins, six had only one twin with autism spectrum disorder, seven had both twins had autism spectrum disorder and 19 were unaffected by autism spectrum disorder. The researchers found smaller differences in the metal intake patterns when both of the twins had autism. They found significant differences in pairs where one sibling was diagnosed with autism.
The researchers were able to show differences in six metals including lead, zinc, tin, chromium and manganese out of the ten metals studied and autism rates. Both lead and manganese, which were statistically significant in how they related to autism risk.
Lead levels were consistently higher from 10 weeks before birth to 20 weeks after birth in children with autism spectrum disorder than their non-autism spectrum disorder counterparts.