Georgian Med News. 2015 Nov;(248):77-82.


Our study aims evaluation of level of essential trace elements and heavy metals in the hair samples of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and identification of changes that are associated with autistic spectrum disorders. Case-control study was conducted at Child Development Center of Iashvili Children's Central Hospital (LD).We studied 60 children aged from 4 to 5 years old. The concentrations of 28 elements among (Ca,Zn, K, Fe, Cu, Se, Mn, Cr, S, Br, Cl, Co, Ag, V, Ni, Rb, Mo, Sr, Ti, Ba, Pb, As, Hg, Cd, Sb, Zr, Sn, Bi) them trace elements and toxic metals) were determined in scalp hair samples of children (n=30) with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and from control group of healthy children (n=30) with matched sex and age. Micro-elemental status was detected in the hair, with roentgen-fluorescence spectrometer method (Method MBИ 081/12-4502-000, Apparatus ALVAX- CIP, USA - UKRAIN) .To achieve the similarity of study and control groups, pre and postnatal as well as family and social history were assessed and similar groups were selected. Children with genetic problems, malnourished children, children from families with social problems were excluded from the study. The diagnosis of ASD were performed by pediatrician and psychologist (using M-CHAT and ADOS) according to DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric association) criteria. The study was statistically analyzed using computer program SPSS 19. Deficiencies of essential trace microelements revealed in both group, but there was significant difference between control and studied groups. The most deficient element was zinc (92% in target and 20% in control), then - manganese (55% and 8%) and selenium (38% and 4%). In case of cooper study revealed excess concentration of this element only in target group in 50% of cases. The contaminations to heavy metals were detected in case of lead (78% and 16), mercury (43% and 10%) and cadmium (38% and 8%). The study statistical results indicated, that deficient concentrations of trace elements such as zinc, manganese, molybdenum and selenium in hair significantly linked with ASD (Kramer's V was 0,740; 0,537; 0,333; 0,417 accordingly). In case of cooper we got excess levels of this element and this data was highly linked with autism spectrum disorder. We got high associations and significant values between of lead, mercury and cadmium concentrations and ASD. Study results indicate that there are significant differences of hair essential trace elements concentrations in children with autism spectrum disorder comparing with healthy children group. The result obtained also showed high contamination to heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium in ASD children compared to healthy ones. So, our study demonstrated alteration in levels of toxic heavy metals and essential trace elements in children with autistic spectrum disorders as compared to healthy children. This suggests a possible pathophysiological role of heavy metals and trace elements in the genesis of symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / metabolism*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology
  • Cadmium / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child, Preschool
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Hair / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lead / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Manganese / deficiency
  • Mercury / metabolism
  • Molybdenum / metabolism
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Trace Elements / metabolism*
  • Zinc / deficiency*


  • Trace Elements
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum
  • Mercury
  • Selenium
  • Zinc