Baby teeth may predict autism, says study
Scientists suggest evidence found in baby teeth can be used to predict who might develop autism.
Researchers suggest that cycles involved in zinc and copper metabolism are dysregulated in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and can be used to predict who will later develop it.
They used the teeth to reconstruct prenatal and early-life exposures to nutrient and toxic elements in healthy and autistic children.
Results of the study were published online in Science Advances, a journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
This is the first study in the world to generate a 90% accurate fetal and early childhood biomarker of ASD using a longitudinal analysis of distinct metabolic pathways, and to replicate it in four independent study populations.
The results of this research could produce a new diagnostic approach for ASD early in life, before the disorder appears, and could lead to new treatments and prevention strategies.
During fetal and childhood development, a new tooth layer is formed every day. As each of these ‘growth rings’ forms, an imprint of many of the chemicals circulating in the body is captured in each layer, which provides a chronological record of exposure.
The research team used lasers to sample these layers and reconstruct the past exposures along incremental markings, similar to using growth rings on a tree to determine the tree’s growth history.
This technique, discovered by Manish Arora, PhD, BDS, MPH, at Mount Sinai, has informed research in the field of exposomics, the study of the effects of the totality of environmental exposures across the lifespan.
It has provided a crucial piece missing from most exposomic analyses of environmental exposures: time. This technique allowed Dr. Arora and his team to reconstruct past exposures, including those experienced before birth.
Methods such as tooth analysis have provided the Mount Sinai Institute for Exposomic Research a wide-net approach to observe multiple exposures and patterns at a time.
In future studies, the research team plans to use baby teeth to study the association of metal metabolic cycles with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and other disorders.
Author: Julie Bissett