Sunday, February 19, 2012

"No support for the hypothesis of differences in urinary mercury excretion in children with autism compared to other groups"

A Comparison of Urinary Mercury between Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Control Children

Barry Wright 1*, Helen Pearce 2, Victoria Allgar 3, Jeremy Miles 4, Clare Whitton 1, Irene Leon 5, Jenny Jardine 1, Nicola McCaffrey 1, Rob Smith 6, Ian Holbrook 6, John Lewis 5, David Goodall 7, Ben Alderson-Day 1

1 North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust, York, United Kingdom,
2 Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Durham, United Kingdom,
3 Hull York Medical School, York, United Kingdom,
4 FNORD RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, United States of America,
5 Food and Environment Research Agency, Sand Hutton, United Kingdom,
6 York NHS Foundation Trust, York, United Kingdom,
7 Department Of Chemistry, York University, York, United Kingdom


Urinary mercury concentrations are used in research exploring mercury exposure. Some theorists have proposed that autism is caused by mercury toxicity. We set out to test whether mercury concentrations in the urine of children with autism were significantly increased or decreased compared to controls or siblings.

Blinded cohort analyses were carried out on the urine of 56 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compared to their siblings (n = 42) and a control sample of children without ASD in mainstream (n = 121) and special schools (n = 34).

There were no statistically significant differences in creatinine levels, in uncorrected urinary mercury levels or in levels of mercury corrected for creatinine, whether or not the analysis is controlled for age, gender and amalgam fillings.

This study lends no support for the hypothesis of differences in urinary mercury excretion in children with autism compared to other groups. Some of the results, however, do suggest further research in the area may be warranted to replicate this in a larger group and with clear measurement of potential confounding factors.

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