Heavy metal in children's tooth enamel: related to autism and disruptive behaviors?

J Autism Dev Disord. 2012 Jun;42(6):929-36. doi: 10.1007/s10803-011-1318-6.


To examine possible links between neurotoxicant exposure and neuropsychological disorders and child behavior, relative concentrations of lead, mercury, and manganese were examined in prenatal and postnatal enamel regions of deciduous teeth from children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), high levels of disruptive behavior (HDB), and typically developing (TD) children. Using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, we found no significant differences in levels of these neurotoxicants for children with ASDs compared with TD children, but there was marginal significance indicating that children with ASDs have lower manganese levels. No significant differences emerged between children with HDB and TD children. The current findings challenge the notion that perinatal heavy metal exposure is a major contributor to the development of ASDs and HDB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / etiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / etiology*
  • Child
  • Dental Enamel / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Male
  • Manganese / analysis*
  • Mercury / analysis*


  • Lead
  • Manganese
  • Mercury