, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1043–1051 | Cite as

A biomarker of mercury body-burden correlated with diagnostic domain specific clinical symptoms of autism spectrum disorder

  • Janet K. Kern
  • David A. Geier
  • James B. Adams
  • Mark R. Geier


The study purpose was to compare the quantitative results from tests for urinary porphyrins, where some of these porphyrins are known biomarkers of heavy metal toxicity, to the independent assessments from a recognized quantitative measurement, the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), of specific domains of autistic disorders symptoms (Speech/Language, Sociability, Sensory/Cognitive Awareness, and Health/Physical/Behavior) in a group of children having a clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). After a Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) evaluation to assess the development of each child in this study and aid in confirming their classification, and an ATEC was completed by a parent, a urinary porphyrin profile sample was collected and sent out for blinded analysis. Urinary porphyrins from twenty-four children, 2–13 years of age, diagnosed with autism or PDD-NOS were compared to their ATEC scores as well as their scores in the specific domains (Speech/Language, Sociability, Sensory/Cognitive Awareness, and Health/Physical/Behavior) assessed by ATEC. Their urinary porphyrin samples were evaluated at Laboratoire Philippe Auguste (which is an ISO-approved clinical laboratory). The results of the study indicated that the participants’ overall ATEC scores and their scores on each of the ATEC subscales (Speech/Language, Sociability, Sensory/Cognitive Awareness, and Health/Physical/Behavior) were linearly related to urinary porphyrins associated with mercury toxicity. The results show an association between the apparent level of mercury toxicity as measured by recognized urinary porphyrin biomarkers of mercury toxicity and the magnitude of the specific hallmark features of autism as assessed by ATEC.


Toxicity Mercury CARS ATEC ASDs Asperger’s Autism PDD-NOS Porphyrins Biomarkers Susceptibility 



This research was funded by a grant from the Autism Research Institute, non-profit CoMeD, Inc., and by the non-profit Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc. through a grant from the Brenen Hornstein Autism Research & Education (BHARE) Foundation. The authors wish to acknowledge the help of the parents and children who participated in the study; without their participation this type of investigation would not be possible.

Conflict of interest statement

David Geier, Janet Kern, and Mark Geier have been involved in vaccine/biologic litigation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet K. Kern
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • David A. Geier
    • 3
    • 4
  • James B. Adams
    • 5
  • Mark R. Geier
    • 6
  1. 1.Autism Treatment CenterDallasUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at DallasDallasUSA
  3. 3.CoMeD, Inc.Silver SpringUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc.Silver SpringUSA
  5. 5.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  6. 6.ASD CentersSilver SpringUSA
  7. 7.ASD Centers of AmericaAllenUSA

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