Friday, June 02, 2006

Autism linked to heavy metals (again)

New Scientist recently described a study from France regarding the potential that high levels of heavy metal in children can lead to autism. According to this article the researches found that children with autism had increased levels of porphyrins in their urine. Note they are not directly measuring the levels of the heavy metals that they are implicating as a potential cause, but rather are detecting a metabolite that is used in the production of hemoglobin. You may recall that mercury in childhood vaccines was thought to be the culprit in the rise of autism, but this heavy metal was ultimately found innocent.

Let's hope this study is correct. If autism can be linked to the presence of heavy metals, I'm confident that chemists can solve this problem. They figured out how to give people huge doses of gadolinium as a MRI contrast reagent (Gd is very toxic on its own), so removing toxic metals in children to prevent autism is likely a solvable problem.


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