Study offers toothy look at environmental risk for autism

A small study suggests that baby teeth may afford a way to explore environmental risk factors for autism.

The study analyzed baby teeth from 13 sets of twins in which at least one of the twins has autism, and 19 sets of neurotypical twins. The researchers found that the children with autism have less zinc and manganese and more lead in their baby teeth than their unaffected twins do1.

The findings hint that unusual absorption of these metals early in life tilts the balance toward autism. They are preliminary and need to be validated — and may not be specific to autism. But they offer a promising strategy for evaluating environmental exposures, says Amy Kalkbrenner, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who was not involved in the study.

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2nd August 2017