A new study revealed that metals found in baby teeth may trigger autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The research, which LiveScience reports is still underway, links the concentration of different metals in children's teeth to metabolic disorders; a connection that could be the cause of different neurological disorders including autism and ADHD. In further studying this area of research, researchers and doctors may be able to catch these disorders earlier on.
The study, which was published on September 25th in the Translational Psychiatry journal, looked at dental tissue which consisted of various metals, including zinc and lead. The different teeth showed how different children's bodies processed the various metals. Those children who were already diagnosed with autism or ADHD had teeth in which the metabolic cycles (of metabolizing the metals) weren't as efficient.
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This observation further reinforced previous ideas about how toxic metals can disturb neurological functioning. "It isn't only a story of '[metal] exposure leads to bad outcomes'- it's also a story of how different metabolic profiles may make certain people more vulnerable," says Dr. Amy Margolis, a medical psychologist at Columbia University Medical Center.
The idea of linking metal exposure to neurological disorders was examined in the past in looking at the blood and urine samples of children with these disorders. The problem with that, however, is that it only told how much was in their body at that given time. In examining teeth, which start developing in utero, a better timeline of metal concentration in the body can be examined.
Paul Curtin, a computational biologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, compares the different approach to "growth rings on trees." In examining dental tissue, researchers were "able to follow the growth rings in the tooth and go back in time," Curtin explained.
In using concentrated plasma beams, the researchers sliced through the individual teeth, exposing the internal "rings." "The laser-generated charged particles within the dental tissue that could then be detected [were] analyzed and fed into a computer algorithm to reveal distinct patterns of metal embedded in the teeth," reports LiveScience.
The results showed that there was a slight correlation between metal concentration and neurological disorders, specifically speaking in terms of autism and ADHD. In analyzing the baby teeth, it showed that normal cycles of breaking down metals could be less efficient in children with these disorders (triggering and exacerbating them).