The authors sought to establish whether maternal dietary methanol during pregnancy was a factor in the etiology of autism spectrum disorders. A seven item questionnaire was given to women who had given birth to at least one child after 1984. The subjects were solicited from a large primary care practice and several internet sites and separated into two groups - mothers who had given birth to a child with autism and those who had not. Average weekly methanol consumption was calculated based on questionnaire responses. 550 questionnaires were completed by women who gave birth to a non-autistic child. On average these women consumed 66.71mg. of methanol weekly. 161 questionnaires were completed by women who had given birth to an autistic child. The average estimated weekly methanol consumption for this group was 142.31mg. Based on the results of the Wilcoxon rank sum-test, we see a significant difference between the reported methanol consumption rates of the two groups. This study suggests that women who have given birth to an autistic child are likely to have had higher intake of dietary sources of methanol than women who have not. Further investigation of a possible link of dietary methanol to autism is clearly warranted.
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