Blood Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Lead in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Environmental factors have been implicated in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, the role of heavy metals has not been fully defined. This study investigated whether blood levels of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead of children with ASD significantly differ from those of age- and sex-matched controls. One hundred eighty unrelated children with ASD and 184 healthy controls were recruited. Data showed that the children with ASD had significantly (p < 0.001) higher levels of mercury and arsenic and a lower level of cadmium. The levels of lead did not differ significantly between the groups. The results of this study are consistent with numerous previous studies, supporting an important role for heavy metal exposure, particularly mercury, in the etiology of ASD. It is desirable to continue future research into the relationship between ASD and heavy metal exposure.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank Prof. Shiqiang Shang and Dr. Jian Cai for their contributions to the revision of this manuscript. This study was funded by Medical Technology Program of Zhejiang Province of China (grant number 2014KYA122).

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Correspondence to Zhengyan Zhao.

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Li, H., Li, H., Li, Y. et al. Blood Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Lead in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Biol Trace Elem Res 181, 31–37 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-017-1002-6

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Heavy metals
  • Developmental neurotoxicity