POSSIBLE LINK BETWEEN METAL TOXICITY AND AUTISM
MAY 1, 2019 @7.51 PM
Many contributing factors have been associated in the aetiology of autism. There is no known single cause of autism. Both genetics, environment and epigenetics all play a part in vulnerable children. Like paracetamol (acetaminophen), heavy-metal is another risk factor in the cause of autism.
Heavy-metal exposure is everywhere, from the air we breathe, in the food we eat and to the things we touch, feel or use on our bodies. We live in a toxic world. All manufactured products we use in our homes, offices, schools or playgrounds contain various heavy metals.
The common heavy metals and their sources are mercury (from vaccines with thiomersal preservative, fish especially tuna, shark and dental fillings), lead (from gasoline, paint, toys, pipes, plastics, cosmetics), cadmium (from shellfish, cigarette smoke, nickel-cadmium batteries), arsenic (from chicken corn feed, drinking water), copper (from utensils, copper pipes, drinking water) and aluminium (from water purification, antacids, dialysis anticaking agent in foods).
Diagnostic tests have been done on hair, blood, urine and faeces (stools) to prove the existence of toxic levels of heavy metals in children with autism compared to neurotypical or normal controls.
The hair is a dumping ground for heavy metals and indicates exposure over the last three months if external contamination has been excluded (for example from nickel, silver from shampoos).
A hair analysis is an easy and inexpensive test of heavy-metal exposure. The stool metal test also reflects the dumping of internal toxins, from what we eat into the gut. Blood tests usually indicate recent or ongoing exposure and not past exposure.
Children with autism have higher levels of several toxic metals in their blood and urine compared to typical children.
In a study of 55 children with autism, ages five to 16, compared to 44 controls of similar age and gender. (from Biological Trace Element Research, February 2013 in Arizona State University), the autism group had significantly higher levels of lead in their red blood cells (+41%) and significantly higher urinary levels of lead (+74%), thallium (+77%), tin (+115%), and tungsten (+44%).
Lead, thallium, tin and tungsten are toxic metals that can impair brain development and function, and also interfere with the normal functioning of other body organs and systems.
In many personal communications with Dr William Shaw of Kansas City, a leading biochemist and toxicologist, he says: “Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium are neurotoxins and extremely high levels have been found in South-East Asia.
Exposure to mercury
All forms of mercury are toxic. Organic mercury is more toxic than inorganic mercury. Ethyl mercury is used in vaccines. Volcanoes are emission sources of atmospheric mercury. Mercury is readily absorbable through skin.
Exposure to mercury can damage the kidneys, nervous system and interfere with foetal brain development and in young children, it can also cause symptoms such as irritability, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, memory problems, depression and numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around the mouth.
Mad hatter symptoms are caused by mercury. Minamata disease affected several people and cats in Japan in 1956.
There are many similarities between autism and mercury poisoning. Exposures to toxic chemicals may impair the rate of various enzyme reactions. For example, mercury inhibits methionine synthetase. Supplementation with high doses of methylcobalamin, a methylated form of vitamin B12 can bypass this metabolic block. Both copper and zinc act as catalysts for enzymatic reactions in the body and both metals are essential elements.
Two Malaysian autistic toddlers (initalled as ASX and ADN), aged two years old had hair samples and one blood sample (belonging to ASX) tested which showed elevated aluminium and mercury and (for ADN) elevated hair mercury, lead and arsenic.
Biomedical interventions have helped improve their autistic behaviour. DMSA, an FDA-approved medication for removing toxic metals is generally safe, effective and has improved some symptoms of autism. The rising global autism epidemic is a public health issue and our children must be protected because safe young brains and minds are our future assets.
Contributed by Dr Malinee Thambyayah, Child Neurologist & Developmental Paediatrician.
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