Blood mercury levels in autism spectrum disorder: Is there a threshold level?

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2010;70(2):177-86. doi: 10.55782/ane-2010-1789.


Mercury (Hg) may significantly impact the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Lab results generated by Vitamin Diagnostics (CLIA-approved) from 2003-2007, were examined among subjects diagnosed with an ASD (n=83) in comparison to neurotypical controls (n=89). Blood Hg levels were determined by analyzing Hg content in red blood cells (RBC) using cold vapor analysis, and consistent Hg measurements were observed between Vitamin Diagnostics and the University of Rochester. Adjusted (age, gender, and date of collection) mean Hg levels were 1.9-fold significantly (P<.0001) increased among subjects diagnosed with an ASD (21.4 microg/L) in comparison to controls (11.4 microg/L). Further, an adjusted significant (P<.0005) threshold effect >15 microg/L) was observed for Hg levels on the risk of a subject being diagnosed with an ASD in comparison to controls (odds ratio=6.4). The weight of scientific evidence supports Hg as a causal factor in subjects diagnosed with an ASD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Autistic Disorder / chemically induced*
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • Male
  • Mercury / blood*
  • Mercury / toxicity*
  • Physical Examination
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • United States


  • Mercury