Heavy Metal in Children’s Tooth Enamel: Related to Autism and Disruptive Behaviors?

11 Jul

The idea that mercury causes autism has been around for over 10 years now. The data have been overwhelmingly against the hypothesis. The risk of autism doesn’t increase with thimerosal exposure from vaccines (e.g. Prenatal and infant exposure to thimerosal from vaccines and immunoglobulins and risk of autism and a number of other studies.) There are still groups which promote the idea, and there are still studies being performed. Case in point, a new study: Heavy Metal in Children’s Tooth Enamel: Related to Autism and Disruptive Behaviors?

The idea is straightforward and one that has been used to promote the idea of vaccine/thimerosal causation. If baby teeth have a different level of mercury, that might say something about whether the child was (a) exposed to high levels of mercury and/or (b) whether the child was more or less able to excrete mercury.

Here is the abstract of the study:

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.

Basically, the levels of mercury and lead were the same for autistic kids as for non-autistic kids. There may be lower levels of manganese.

This isn’t the strongest, nor is it the last, study on mercury and autism. But, yet again, the evidence comes in against the idea that autism is caused by mercury.

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9 Responses to “Heavy Metal in Children’s Tooth Enamel: Related to Autism and Disruptive Behaviors?”

  1. MikeMa July 12, 2011 at 14:34 #

    I regret the money wasted studying and refuting the same ideas rather than spending it on real, promising research.

  2. PeripheralPerspective July 12, 2011 at 18:02 #

    But your still assuming your conclusion based on the presence of mercury. NOT how mercury may uniquely impact that system. Different “heritages” have different susceptibility even if the exposure was the same. It may not be just how much mercury is exposed or how much stays in the system, but rather how that particular system REACTED to the exposure.

    A low level of manganese is a serious immune issue (as it is related to HIV and things like prostrate cancer susceptibility)

    Manganese HIV
    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/2002/APRIL/020425.htm

    Plasma selenium impact by SOD2 manganese gene
    http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/27/22/3577.abstract

    It’s like saying low selenium is bad so lets supplement everyone. Different people have different requirements and different reactions. But it is HIGHLY dependent on the individual involved.

    So you can find the “same” levels of whatever you want across two groups, control vs Autism. But the issues that that substance or lack thereof may depend on the SYSTEM IT IS PUT INTO AND HOW IT MAY BE UNIQUELY IMPACTING IT.

    If you want to really find evidence you have to look at the assumptions you are going in with. If you assume it’s an all or nothing, which is a remnant of Koch’s Postulate, the assumption that the substance will be present in everyone who has the “disease” (Autism isn’t a disease)… so that type of logic doesn’t work… and yet we keep on using it.

    Gender, race/ethnicity, personality, and interleukin-6 in urban primary care patients.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19162168

    Mercury induces inflammatory mediator release from human mast cells (VEGF and IL-6). 2011
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20222982

    What logic are we using to come to the conclusions we come to?

    • Sullivan July 12, 2011 at 18:06 #

      PeripheralPerspective,

      since multiple studies have shown that mercury from vaccines does not increase the risk of autism, it’s time to let this hypothesis go.

  3. PeripheralPerspective July 12, 2011 at 19:34 #

    I would agree if the hypothesis you’re asking me to let go is that it is THE cause of Autism. I agree 100%, it is time to let that hypothesis go. It is time to let go of thinking they somehow have MORE mercury in their systems. That is absolutely a hypothesis that has been defeated. But there are other hypotheses to consider that may still involve heavy metals in general.

    So what I don’t understand is how defeating that hypothesis, which should be defeated, that mercury causes Autism, how that leads to the extreme conclusion that it’s not hazardous at all and nothing to do with it or any cognitive impacts? Do you feel that would be misleading?

    • Sullivan July 12, 2011 at 20:07 #

      So what I don’t understand is how defeating that hypothesis, which should be defeated, that mercury causes Autism, how that leads to the extreme conclusion that it’s not hazardous at all and nothing to do with it or any cognitive impacts? Do you feel that would be misleading?

      What I find misleading are statements like the one above. No one has stated that mercury is not hazardous at all or that there are no cognitive impacts from high levels of mercury exposure.

  4. PeripheralPerspective July 12, 2011 at 20:18 #

    What about low levels of mercury exposure?

  5. PeripheralPerspective July 12, 2011 at 20:25 #

    What does it mean that TMR has a positive effect on cognitive function?

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