Another Autism Suspect Eliminated: Mercury

There has been some concern that mercury may play a role in autism development. Several studies have been conducted but no clear link has been found.

A study was recently published online in PLoS One, in which researchers with the North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust found that even low-level mercury exposure is not likely to contribute to autism.

The team of researchers held a study of 56 children with autism spectrum disorders, and mainstream, special school and sibling controls.

Mercury levels in urine did not differ between children with autism and controls, even after the figures were adjusted for factors such as urine concentration and body mass. The team also found no difference in the levels of other heavy metals such as lithium, manganese, and copper.

The causes of autism continue to be a mystery but each suspect eliminated is one step closer to narrow down the cause. Studies point towards both genetic and environmental factors playing a part.

Recently, a team at the Harvard School of Public Health found several factors that occur during pregnancy that appear to increase the risk of autism, such as low birth weight, blood type incompatibility, low Apgar score, and summer birth. Smoking during pregnancy has been ruled out as a possible causes.  Other potential concerns that have been investigated include both maternal and paternal age, medications or infections that the mother is exposed to during pregnancy, and air pollution.

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