Children with Autism Have a Higher Body Lead Burden than Neurotypical Controls

October 09, 2023

Increased Levels Found in Hair, Blood, and Urine in Kids with ASD

According to a new systematic review and meta-analysis, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have higher lead (Pb) levels in their hair, whole blood, and urine compared to neurotypical control children. This finding suggests that Pb exposure might be a contributing factor to the development of autism, although the authors indicate that there could be other unknown mechanisms at play. Their review states that children with autism may have a reduced ability to excrete Pb and other toxic trace metals, leading to a high body burden and accumulation in various organs, including the central nervous system. The authors indicate that disrupted Pb detoxification and excretion pathways are mostly connected to glutathione conjugation, which is often reduced in children with ASD. The review also shows that exposure to Pb begins prenatally, readily crosses the placental barrier and affects the blood-brain barrier, which is not yet developed until the first year. Since no level of Pb is considered safe, the review suggests monitoring Pb levels in children on the spectrum, particularly in their hair, whole blood or its components (serum/plasma, red blood cell count), and urine. The authors call for further research to explore effective ways of reducing Pb levels in children’s bodies to prevent harmful effects. 

Original Review and Meta-Analysis

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons