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Evaluation of Whole Blood Trace Element Levels in Chinese Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Ling-ling Wu
  • Shan-shan Mao
  • Xu Lin
  • Rong-wang Yang
  • Zhi-wei ZhuEmail author
Article

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which has increased markedly during the last decades. Essential trace elements play an important role in neurological function and their imbalances are common in children with ASD. The objective of the present study was to investigate whole blood levels of trace elements including zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), and magnesium (Mg) in Chinese children with ASD. In total, 113 children diagnosed with ASD and 141 age-matched and gender-matched neurotypical children, divided into two gender and age groups of preschool age (2–5 years old) and school (6–10 years old) age, were examined. The quantitative analyses of whole blood trace element contents were performed by using flame atomic absorption spectroscopy. In the present study, the children with ASD generally had lower whole blood levels of Zn than the neurotypical controls. No significant differences in the whole blood Cu, Zn/Cu ratio, Fe, or Mg was detected between the ASD group and the control group. It is notable that whole blood Fe level in boys with ASD was significantly higher than in girls with ASD, and was nearly significant when compared with the control level of boys. After stratification for age, a significant 6% decrease in whole blood Zn levels was detected in preschool-aged children with ASD as compared to the control values. However, this significant ASD-related change was not detected in school-aged children. The whole blood Zn level and Zn/Cu ratio were significantly increased in school-aged children than in preschool-aged children in both ASD and control group. In addition, school-aged children with ASD had a significantly higher level of whole blood Fe than preschool-aged children with ASD. The results of the present study suggest an association between whole blood levels of Zn in Chinese children with ASD.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Trace elements Zinc Copper Iron Magnesium 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Zheng Shen in the Department of Laboratory for the technical assistance.

Funding

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant number 81373015]; and the Health and Family Planning Commission of Zhejiang province [grant number H2014KYA125].

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Children’s HospitalZhejiang University School of MedicineCity of HangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Neurology, Children’s HospitalZhejiang University School of MedicineCity of HangzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of Child Health Care, Children’s HospitalZhejiang University School of MedicineCity of HangzhouChina
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, Children’s HospitalZhejiang University School of MedicineCity of HangzhouChina

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