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Study of some biomarkers in hair of children with autism

Elsheshtawy, Emana; Tobar, Salwaa; Sherra, Khalida; Atallah, Sohaylab; Elkasaby, Rashac

Middle East Current Psychiatry: January 2011 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 6–10
doi: 10.1097/01.XME.0000392842.64112.64
Original articles

Introduction Autism is a severe developmental disorder, which involves social withdrawal, communication deficits, and stereotypic repetitive behavior. The possible etiologies that precipitate autism symptoms remain controversial in many cases, but both genetic and environmental factors have been implicated. Mercury has gained much attention for a considerable period of time before other exacerbating or protective factors were suggested. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between autism and the level of some metals (namely mercury, lead, and copper) or zinc as a counteracting antioxidant element.

Methods The study recruited 32 autistic children and 32 normal controls and all of them were subjected to KID-SCID, Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), Stanford Binet intelligence test, and biochemical analysis of hair samples for the level of mercury, copper, lead and zinc.

Results There were highly significant differences between the level of these substances in the hair of children with autism compared with controls, positive correlation of CARS score with both mercury and copper, while intelligence quotient has significant negative correlation with the level of lead in the hair. The level of zinc does not correlate with either CARS score or intelligence quotient.

Conclusion These preliminary results suggest a complementary role for the studied elements in the pathogenesis of autistic disorder, which should be considered in the management plane.

aDepartments of Psychiatry

bForensic Medicine and Toxicology

cPhonetics, Mansoura University Hospitals, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, Egypt

Correspondence to Eman Elsheshtawy, Department of Psychiatry Mansoura University Hospitals, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura, Egypt Tel: +0187455403; fax: +26824738; e-mail:

Received August 8, 2010

Accepted November 25, 2010

© 2011 Institute of Psychiatry, Ain Shams University