ASU has announced that the study has been published in the journal “Biological Trace Element Research” on Feb. 25, 2013.
Researchers studied 55 children with autism ages 5 to 16 years old, and compared the test results with the levels of 44 children without autism. A statistical analysis used three different scales of autism severity to determine whether the levels of toxic metals and autism severity were related.
“We hypothesize that reducing early exposure to toxic metals may help ameliorate symptoms of autism, 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,” the authors of the study said in a paper describing the research. The study was led by James Adams, a President’s Professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy. Adams also directs the ASU Autism/Asperger’s Research Program.
The group with autism had much higher levels of toxic metals in their bodies, such as:
- 41 percent higher levels of lead in their red blood cells
- +74 percent higher urinary levels of lead
- +77 percent higher levels of thallium
- +115 percent higher levels of tin
- 44 percent higher levels of tungsten
These toxic metals can impair the development and function of the brain, organs and other body systems. Researchers found that 38 to 47 percent of the autism severity level was associated with the level of several toxic metals. Cadmium and mercury had the strongest association with autism levels.
A previous study published by Adams examined the use of DMSA, an FDA-approved medication that removes toxic metals from the body. The study found that DMSA was safe and effective, and improved some symptoms of autism. Children with the highest amounts of toxic metals in their urine showed significant improvement in metal levels while taking DMSA.