Do Metals Actually Cause Autism? Most Likely - No
by Sean Farmer
Theory of exposure to heavy metals as a risk factor for the development of autism has been the subject of a long debate among scientists.
There have been several studies that have disproved a link between exposure to heavy metals and autism (Hertz-Piccioto et al. 2009; Modabbernia et al. 2017; Schultz 2010).
In addition, the 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 their level steadily decreases over time (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 2017; Environmental Protection Agency 2017; Jain 2017; National Cancer Institute 2018).
In particular, for example, mercury levels in the blood of children aged 1-5 years decreased by 21% between 2003 and 2012 (Jain 2017).
Another example is the level of lead in the blood of a population. Since 1960, when the level was 60 µg / DL, it has been steadily decreasing and reached 5 µg / DL in 2012 (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 2017).
These data do not correlate with the incidence of ASD, which is known to be increasing exponentially.
This contradiction indicates that lead and mercury cannot be considered as the main etiological factor of RAS.
Focus on Aluminum
Aluminum, which is an adjuvant agent in some vaccines, and is also considered by some authors as an etiological factor of autism. Several studies have shown that aluminum levels are elevated in patients with ASD compared to healthy controls (Mold et al. 2018; Senef et al. 2012).
Although, statistically, healthy children receive more vaccines than children who subsequently develop autism (Hornig et al. 2008), there are some other arguments against the causal relationship between aluminum (from any source) and autism.
First, aluminum intoxication is characterized by a certain hematological picture. Specifically, this includes: reduced levels of hematocrit, hemoglobin, MCV, MCH and low red blood cell count, as well as increased levels of iron and calcium in the blood.
(Cannata et al. 1996; Hewitt et al. 1992; Mahieu et al. 2000).
At the same time, studies involving patients diagnosed with ASD show that children with autism usually experience an increase in the number of red blood cells, hemoglobin and MCV levels, normal MCH values, iron and calcium deficiency (Alibek et al. 2019; Ciccoli et al. 2013; Herguner and others 2011; Kutlu and Cevher Binici 2018; Srinivasan 2016, etc.).
In addition, taking into account that most patients with ASD have low serum ferritin levels, it has been shown that in non-autistic patients with low serum ferritin levels after 2 weeks of oral administration of aluminum, aluminum accumulation has increased significantly, while in patients with high serum ferritin levels, no increase in serum aluminum has been shown (Cannata et al. 1984). This effect is explained by the relationship between aluminum and iron in the body. However, this effect does not work in the opposite direction: elevated aluminum levels do not affect serum ferritin levels (Caramelo et al. 1995). Thus, the author came to the conclusion that the accumulation of aluminum in the tissues of the body is possible only in patients with low ferritin levels (Cannata 1996).
At the same time, low serum ferritin levels do not always indicate iron deficiency, but always indicate chronic inflammation (Baune et al. 2010; Khan et al. 2016; Manousou et al. 2011). This is consistent with the fact that some viral infections lead to increased accumulation of aluminum in tissues and blood (Delva, 1962; Fenwick et al.2005; SECO et al., 1986). In addition, some drugs often prescribed to children with ASD contain alumina (e.g. risperidone) (McCracken et al. 2002). This, combined with low serum ferritin levels, may further contribute to the difference in aluminum levels observed in children with ASD, compared to healthy controls. That is, based on the data of scientific publications, the level of aluminum in the child is increased not because he once received a large dose of aluminum and this led to autism.
And because of infections and chronic inflammation that can lead to autism, a child may have an iron deficiency. And then, because of iron deficiency, aluminum tends to accumulate in tissues. And again, returning to the beginning, suppression of inflammation and reduction of the infectious load will lead to normalization of iron levels, and as a result, aluminum can begin to be excreted naturally.
If we analyze the situation with metals 100 years ago, we will see that before these heavy metals were everywhere-in cosmetics, medicines, water pipes, etc. For example, in the Merck's Manual of 1899, a Handbook of medicines, it can be seen that a huge number of medicines were high in lead, mercury, and copper.
Nevertheless, there was no autism before, and now it is not just there, and the level of children with autism is growing every year
As for chelation therapy, firstly, it will not help to cure autism, as there is no connection, and secondly, it can be dangerous since there are cases of deaths in this kind of therapy. You just have to remember that this kind of therapy is used in emergency cases, i.e. when the levels of heavy metals are life-threatening.