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Last Updated: 02/01/2018

Article of Interest - Autism Research

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Bridges4Kids LogoArizona State University - Autism Baby Hair Study
A summary of preliminary results as shared with program participants. “Our preliminary conclusion is that many children with autism had low mercury in their baby hair, probably due to impaired excretion. The impaired excretion is probably partly due to excessive oral antibiotics, although genetics or other factors may also play a role.”
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Arizona State University
P.O. Box 876006
Tempe, AZ 85287-6006

July 2004

Dear Parent (name removed for privacy),

Thank you very much for your participation in our Autism Baby Hair Study.

We have received the initial results of our measurements of mercury levels in baby hair of children with autism vs. controls.

Thank you for your patience; it took longer than anticipated for us to gather enough samples to make it worthwhile to do the measurements, which needed to be done all at once.

Our preliminary results partially support the previous study done by Amy Holmes et al. In that study, they found that children with autism had very low levels of mercury in their baby hair, only 1/8 the amount of the control group. Our results are similar, in that we find that the autistic group had a median level that was 43% that of our controls. However, about 10% of our autistic group had unusually high levels, well above the controls. Our interpretation is that most of the children had a limited ability to excrete mercury (low level in their hair), but a few children had unusually high levels, probably indicating mercury toxicity due to a high exposure.

The results for your child are: xxxxxxxxx

The median value (middle value of the entire group) of the children with autism was 0.36 ppm, with a range of 0 to 19 ppm.

The median value for the control children was 0.85 ppm, with a range of 0.07 to 3.5 ppm

In our preliminary opinion, a value above 2 ppm suggests an unusually high exposure to mercury.

For the children with autism, a value below 0.3 ppm suggests either a low exposure to mercury and/or a limited ability to excrete it. (probably the latter)

Also, in terms of the medical histories, we found that the autism and control groups had similar maternal seafood consumption and similar number of maternal mercury dental fillings. We are still checking on the thimerosal content of their vaccines.

However, the extremely interesting difference in the medical histories is that the children with autism consistently had 2-3x higher usage of oral antibiotics during 0-6 months, 7-12 months, and 13-24 months of life. Oral antibiotics are known to almost totally stop excretion of mercury, as well as kill off normal gut bacteria and hence cause gut problems.

So, our preliminary conclusion is that many children with autism had low mercury in their baby hair, probably due to impaired excretion. The impaired excretion is probably partly due to excessive oral antibiotics, although genetics or other factors may also play a role.

However, we find that a few children with autism had unusually high levels of mercury, which is a clear indication of mercury toxicity.

Finally, you may be interested to know that the preliminary results of our baby tooth study find that children with autism have 3x as much mercury in their baby teeth as typical children, which is consistent with this study suggesting impaired excretion.

We will send you additional results on the tests of other elements in your baby hair sample when they become available, probably in 2-3 months. Some samples may be too small to do other tests, but we will try to test all of them. Several months after that we will write up a formal research paper on our results, and we will send you a copy of that when it is completed.

Again, thank you VERY MUCH for your participation in our study, which has already provided important insight into the autism-mercury connection.


James B. Adams
Jane Romdalvik

Used with permission.


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