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Toxic Metal Burdens May Epigenetically Play Principal Roles as Environmental Factors in Autistic Disorders

  Science post image Estimation of autistic children by metallomics analysis

Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 1199 doi:10.1038/srep01199
Clarification of the pathogenesis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders is one of the challenges today. In this study, we examine scalp hair concentrations of 26 trace elements for 1,967 children with autistic disorders (1,553 males and 414 females). Five-hundred and eighty-four (29.7%), 347 (17.6%) and 114 (5.8%) subjects was found deficient in zinc, magnesium and calcium, respectively, and 2.0% or less in the other essential metals. The incidence rate of mineral deficiency was highly observed in infants aged 0-3 year-old. In contrast, 339 (17.2%), 168 (8.5%) and 94 (4.8%) individuals was found suffering from high burden of aluminium, cadmium and lead, and 2.8% or less from mercury and arsenic burden.

These findings suggest that infantile zinc- and magnesium-deficiency and/or toxic metal burdens may epigenetically play principal roles as environmental factors in autistic disorders and that metallomics approach may lead to early screening and prevention of the neurodevelopment disorders.



"In contrast, 339 (17.2%), 168 (8.5%) and 94 (4.8%) individuals was found suffering from high burden of aluminium, cadmium and lead, and 2.8% or less from mercury and arsenic burden."

This article probes the highs and lows.

I certainly applaud the introduction of Epigenetics into the autism debate. As the Epigenetics method of action is 100% ENVIRONMENTAL.

However we should KNOW by now that the children with exceedingly high mercury levels in their body OFTEN have very little mercury in their HAIR.

IMO zinc plays a large role in autism, the ASDs, diseases often related to autism and the ASDs such as asthma, allergies ect.

Zinc is a KEY player in our immune function.

“Deficiencies of selenium and zinc, important antioxidant micronutrients; contribute to compromised immunity.” Girodon et al

Zinc is likely deficient in MOST of us.

"The natural zinc in foods is almost completely destroyed in commercial food processing. The zinc content of the soil in most agricultural areas has been exhausted." William Fischer

“About 81% of the children in the US are believed to be not getting the RDI of zinc!” CDC

Here is IMO zinc playing possible key ROLES in the autism and ASDs pathogenesis.

“When superoxide dismutase, an endogenous antioxidant enzyme, loses its zinc atom, it becomes neurotoxic (see the Spring/Summer 2001 LPI Newsletter). The second mechanism by which zinc functions as an antioxidant is through the prevention of free radical formation by other metals, such as iron and copper. Unlike highly reactive iron and copper, zinc does not readily undergo oxidation and reduction, or redox, reactions. In redox reactions electrons are transferred to and from different compounds, sometimes resulting in the generation of free radicals. When zinc, instead of iron or copper, is incorporated into proteins, free radical generating reactions that may otherwise occur are inhibited.” Mark A. Levy, PhD & Tammy M. Bray, PhD

“Using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, we have demonstrated that zinc deficiency in rats dramatically increases the permeability, or leakiness, of the Blood Brain Barrier. Additionally, we have observed that when zinc deficiency is accompanied by oxidative stress, as might occur during a bacterial or viral infection, BBB permeability increases dramatically. These observations have led us to hypothesize that under normal conditions, zinc protects the BBB against oxidative stress through its antioxidant properties and in so doing, helps to maintain homeostasis within the brain and prevent the development of neurological disorders.” Mark A. Levy, PhD & Tammy M. Bray, PhD, Note "vaccination" induces extreme oxidative stress

Birgit Calhoun

My hypothesis is strengthened by a wikipedia zinc deficiency reference saying that mercury causes zinc loss: "Effect of mercury vapour exposure on urinary excretion of calcium, zinc and copper: relationship to alterations in functional and structural integrity of the kidney." El-Safty IA, Gadallah M, Shafik A, Shouman AE.

Jeannette Bishop

In addition to nutritional deficiencies, I'm also wondering if much of the harm associated with disease is facilitated or even caused by pre-existing burdens of similar or the very same substances we ironically use to try to provoke immune response in vaccination.

Birgit Calhoun

I was wondering whether the zinc deficiency occurs because of mercury toxicity or some other interfering toxin. The presence of mercury is known to cause other mineral deficiencies. I say that because they say that during chelation therapy mineral levels of calcium, magnesium, and potassium have to be watched carefully. Isn't it also possible that the presence of mercury causes other minerals to be flushed out because the damaged kidney can't handle putting those needed minerals back into the blood? The kidney is meant to get rid of the toxins and keep the needed minerals and other substances. The mercury-damaged kidney loses that ability.


Here is a recent open access article re: zinc & inflamation & immune system (both innate and adaptive.)

When talking about autism, and how there may be genetic predispositions, but the environment pulls the trigger, it really makes me wonder whether the same children succumbing to autism after vaccinations, are the same children that would consistantly show the symtoms of illness when they are exposed to regular germs. If we are using vaccines to "protect" the "vulnerable," what if the vulnerable ARE the ones who are most damaged by the vaccines, because they ARE already vulnerable.

And what if the genetic predispositions are not wholly "genetic" but also stem from nutritional issues and simple nutritional tests could indicate whether or not one will survive vaccinations without adverse effects. (Though I don't really think vaccines are safe in general). If pregnant mothers are already told folate needs to be specifically watched to prevent birth defects, how hard could it be to test for D3, Zinc, & magnesium prior to/during pregnancy. And why, if heal pricks are already done, shouldn't nutritional status be taken at the same time, if we know certain deficiencies can alter neurological and immunological development?

Activation of the transcription factor NF-kB is essential for innate immune function and requires strict
regulation. The micronutrient zinc modulates proper
host defense, and zinc deficiency is associated
with elevated inflammation and worse outcomes in
response to bacterial infection and sepsis. Previous
studies suggest that zinc may regulate NF-kB activity
during innate immune activation, but a mechanistic
basis to support this has been lacking. Herein, we
report that the zinc transporter SLC39A8 (ZIP8) is a
transcriptional target of NF-kB and functions to
negatively regulate proinflammatory responses
through zinc-mediated down-modulation of IkB
kinase (IKK) activity in vitro. Accordingly, fetal fibroblasts obtained from Slc39a8 hypomorphic mice
exhibited dysregulated zinc uptake and increased
NF-kB activation. Consistent with this, mice provided zinc-deficient dietary intakes developed
excessive inflammation to polymicrobial sepsis in
conjunction with insufficient control of IKK. Our findings identify a negative feedback loop that directly
regulates innate immune function through coordination of zinc metabolism.


my autistic child also suffered from very early on a zinc deficiency...interesting stuff


2.8%...isn't that an interesting coincidence.

Birgit Calhoun

My son Erik was so zinc deficient when he finally was tested that he had to be given about 20 times the normal amount of zinc as replacement therapy i.e. 300mg. He had been zinc deficient all his life. Zinc deficiency causes immature sexual development and stunts growth. I presume Erik was also magnesium deficient; but that was never measured. No doctor looked at the relationship of sexual development and zinc in Erik. The main reason why the zinc was tested was because of Erik's Vitamin D deficiency. As soon as that was established the Stanford doctor lost interest in Erik even though we requested appointments at least 10 times. For some reason there was no interest in Erik even for scientific purposes. It was very frustrating to see the neglect.

Paul S

Seems like a simple enough test. There must be many tests that are not that complicated to set up and perform that may start the process of determining what is damaging our children and then make the necessary adjustments to our environment to to stop this autism epidemic.
Where the dickens is the CDC and FDA. I guess they all moved to Denmark????


My daughter had high aluminum, lead, uranium and zirconium. All of the things manufactured in the town we live in. She was deficient in zinc, even though she was receiving a supplement every day, and she had off the charts high magnesium. It certainly was an eye opener to have this test done.

barbara j

Did they test a similar group to determine the "normal" levels? How did they diagnose these children at age O? Do we see this as hair having less of these metals equates with deficiencies? or an inability to excrete normally? All of the chilren, with case age 0, actually 11 months old, had been vaccinated? I don't like this study, is it for real?

Adam M

Correct me if I'm wrong here but the testing they did would not have picked up the mercury poisoning in most of these children because most of the mercury isn't going to get deposited in the hair. It is going to get out of the blood and get trapped in the nervous system. Also a diet high in processed carbs / refined sugar makes you excrete minerals excessively. I believe it's especially copper, zinc and magnesium but I'd have to double check that.

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