Trace Elements in the Hair of Autistic and Control Children

Numerous psychiatric disorders, with features common to the autistic syndrome, have been demonstrated to be related to trace metals. Behavioral teratogenesis initially focused upon subclinical levels of the more toxic trace elements such as lead and mercury, Interest has shifted to the consequences of abnormal levels of metals viewed as less toxic or even essential to life (e.g., zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, aluminum, chromium, and manganese). These metals are known to be involved in numerous biochemical processes including nucleic acid synthesis, enzyme metabolism, vitamin chemistry, and heme biochemistry. More interesting, however, are the relationships that have been demonstrated between these same trace elements and neurotransmitter synthesis. Multielement determinations of trace elements in human hair seems to be a reasonable way to delineate possible relationships.

Philip S. Gentile, Mark J. Trentalange, Walter Zamichek and Mary Coleman (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 13, No. 2, 1983)