Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 342–353 | Cite as

Lack of Correlation Between Metallic Elements Analyzed in Hair by ICP-MS and Autism

  • Giuseppe De Palma
  • Simona Catalani
  • Anna Franco
  • Maurizio Brighenti
  • Pietro Apostoli
Original Paper


A cross-sectional case–control study was carried out to evaluate the concentrations of metallic elements in the hair of 44 children with diagnosis of autism and 61 age-balanced controls. Unadjusted comparisons showed higher concentrations of molybdenum, lithium and selenium in autistic children. Logistic regression analysis confirmed the role of risk factor for male gender and showed a slight association with molybdenum concentrations. Unconventional chelation and vitamin-mineral supplementation were ineffective on elemental hair concentrations. A meta-analysis including the present and previous similar studies excluded any association of autism with hair concentrations of mercury, cadmium, selenium, lithium and copper. A slight association was found for lead only, but it was very weak, as strictly dependent on the worst data from one study.


Autism Hair Metallic elements Inductively coupled mass spectrometry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppe De Palma
    • 1
  • Simona Catalani
    • 1
  • Anna Franco
    • 2
  • Maurizio Brighenti
    • 2
  • Pietro Apostoli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental and Applied Medicine, Section of Occupational Health and Industrial HygieneUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly
  2. 2.Child Neuro-Psychiatry and Developmental Age’s Psychology Department, Public HealthVeronaItaly

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