MYTH: Heavy Metals as a Cause of Autism

Some studies show that in children with autism, the level of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and aluminum is significantly higher than in healthy children. In this regard, these authors conclude that heavy metals are the cause of autism.


However, alterations in the blood cells count in case of poisoning with heavy metals and in chronic infections are distinctly different. In children with autism, the blood picture is the same as in chronic infection. Analysis of the levels of some of these metals in the environment, as well as their average concentrations in the blood of children and adults, shows that exposure constantly decreases with time.

For example, the level of mercury in the blood of children aged 1-5 years decreased by 21% between 2003 and 2012


Another example is the level of lead in the blood of the population. Since 1960, when the level was 60 µg / dl, increased steadily and reached 5 µg / dl in 2012. 


The level of aluminum in the environment has not changed, but an analysis of studies has shown that a viral infection reduces the level of ferritin, which in turn leads to aluminum accumulation in the body - but this happens after the child has developed autism.


If we analyze the situation with metals 100 years ago, we would see that before these heavy metals were everywhere - in cosmetics, medicine, water pipes, etc. For example, in the 1899 Merck’s Manual, a directory of drugs, you can see that a huge number of drugs were high in lead, mercury, and copper.

Nevertheless, there was a much lower incidence of autism before, and nowadays the amount of children with autism is on a constant increase.

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