Baby Teeth May Provide Clues to ASD Baby teeth—with their record of exposure to nutrients and chemicals prenatally and during early childhood—may indicate the roots of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and could possibly help with early detection of the disorder. Research published in Science Advances suggests that the way infants metabolize zinc and copper may predict who ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   August 01, 2018
Baby Teeth May Provide Clues to ASD
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   August 01, 2018
Baby Teeth May Provide Clues to ASD
The ASHA Leader, August 2018, Vol. 23, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.23082018.10
The ASHA Leader, August 2018, Vol. 23, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.23082018.10
Baby teeth—with their record of exposure to nutrients and chemicals prenatally and during early childhood—may indicate the roots of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and could possibly help with early detection of the disorder.
Research published in Science Advances suggests that the way infants metabolize zinc and copper may predict who will develop the condition.
In the womb and throughout early childhood, a new tooth layer is formed every day. As these “growth rings” form, they contain an imprint of many chemicals circulating in the body, which provides a record of exposure.
“We have identified cycles in nutrient metabolism that are apparently critical to healthy neurodevelopment, and are dysregulated in autism spectrum disorder,” says one of the study’s lead authors, Paul Curtin, assistant professor of environmental medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
The researchers also developed algorithms based on measures from these metabolic cycles that predict whether a child will develop autism. The study is the first to find a marker that may help to predict the risk for autism.
Using baby teeth, Curtin and his colleagues reconstructed fetal and infant exposures to nutrient and toxic elements in children with and without ASD, and found that baby teeth from children with ASD contained more toxic lead and less zinc and manganese.
These “biochemical signatures” may potentially be used to develop a diagnostic test that could be administered in infants—years before current diagnostic tests are possible. However, the analyses in the research were done after the teeth were shed by school-age children—long after ASD is clinically evident by other measures.
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August 2018
Volume 23, Issue 8