Normal concentrations of heavy metals in autistic spectrum disorders

Minerva Pediatr. 2012 Feb;64(1):27-31.


Aim: Autism is a neurological-psychiatric disease. In the last 20 years we witnessed a strong increase of autism diagnoses. To explain this increase, some scientists put forward the hypothesis that heavy metal intoxication may be one of the causes of autism. The origin of such an intoxication was hypothesised to be vaccines containing thimerosal as antimicrobic preservative. This preservative is mainly made up of mercury. The aim of our research was to investigate the correlation between autism and high biological concentrations of heavy metals.

Methods: Seventeen autistic patients, between 6 and 16 years old (average: 11.52 DS: 3.20) (15 males and 2 females), were investigated, as well as 20 non autistic subjects from neuropsychiatric service between 6 and 16 years (average: 10.41 DS: 3.20) (15 males and 2 females). In both groups blood, urine and hair samples were analysed trough means of a semiquantitative analysis of heavy metal dosing. The metals analysed were Lead, mercury, cadmium and aluminium, since their build-up may give both neurological and psychiatric symptoms.

Results: The comparison of the mean values of the concentrations between the groups, performed with ANOVA test, has shown no statistically relevant differences.

Conclusion: There wasn't correlation between autism and heavy metal concentration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aluminum / analysis*
  • Aluminum / blood
  • Aluminum / urine
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism*
  • Cadmium / analysis*
  • Cadmium / blood
  • Cadmium / urine
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead / urine
  • Male
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Mercury / blood
  • Mercury / urine
  • Reference Values


  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Aluminum
  • Mercury