Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the levels of ten toxic metals and essential elements in hair samples of children with autism, and to correlate the level of these elements with the severity of autism.
Method: The participants were 44 children, age 3 to 9 years, with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition, (DSM-IV). The severity of autistic symptomatology was measured by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). Hair analysis was performed to evaluate the long term metal exposure and mineral level.
Results: By comparing hair concentration of autistic vs nonautistic children, elevated hair concentrations were noted for aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, antimony, nickel, lead, and vanadium. Hair levels of calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, zinc, and selenium were considered deficient. There was a significant positive correlation between lead & verbal communication (p = 0.020) and general impression (p = 0.008). In addition, there was a significant negative correlation between zinc & fear and nervousness (p = 0.022).
Conclusion: Our data supports the historic evidence that heavy metals play a role in the development of ASD. In combination with an inadequate nutritional status the toxic effect of metals increase along with the severity of symptoms.
Keywords: echocardiography; mortality; prognosis; pulmonary hypertension; right heart catheterization.