Too Much Copper + Not Enough Zinc = New Autism Biomarker

In the ongoing search for ways to screen for autism beyond behavioral symptoms, a new study has uncovered another potential biomarker for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The collaboration between Mudanjiang Medical University in China and Norway based researchers has found a potentially significant difference in the ratio of trace minerals copper and zinc in autistic children.

Both zinc and copper are necessary in the body, where zinc needs to be in good and constantly replenishing supply and copper levels should be relatively low as not to overburden the body. By analyzing serum levels of the minerals in Chinese children diagnosed with autism, the researchers found that the autistic children had higher levels of copper and lower levels of zinc than their neurotypical counterparts.

What’s more, the researchers established a zinc/copper ratio common in the autistic subjects of the study that they believe can serve as an important biomarker for further testing in relation to autism. This also reinforces previously reported imbalances in zinc and copper with autism that are linked to metabolic pathways involved with oxidative stress and the binding of metals. While both essential minerals are derived from healthy foods, no dietary recommendations have been made as a result of this study. Further research in these areas is said to be in the works.

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