MUHC study reveals no difference between mercury levels in autistic children and general population
“In recent years, hypotheses have been raised concerning a possible relationship between mercury exposure and autism,” says Dr. Eric Fombonne principal researcher, Director of Pediatric Psychiatry at the MCH, and Head of the Division of Child Psychiatry at McGill. “Specifically, the concerns have been related to childhood thimerosal-containing vaccines, dental amalgams, and methylmercury in food.
“Our findings do not support the hypothesis that autism is a form of mercury poisoning. The mercury levels we discovered in autistic children and their mothers were within the normal range for the general population.”
Consecutive referrals of young children to the Autism Spectrum Disorders clinic at the MCH were invited to participate in the study. In total, 71 children were included in the study alongside 76 pediatric controls recruited from clinics at the same hospital. Children with autism spectrum disorders all met rigorous diagnostic criteria and were assessed with state-of-the-art standardized measures. Blood and hair samples were taken from all participating children and their mothers, and analyzed using the most advanced techniques available.
“An important practical implication of this study is that chelation therapies, whereby heavy metals are removed from the body using specific compounds , are not useful in the treatment of autism,” says Dr. Fombonne. “Chelation has never been proved efficacious as a biomedical intervention to treat autism.”
The Montreal Children’s Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). The institution is a leader in the care and treatment of sick infants, children, and adolescents from across Quebec. The Montreal Children’s Hospital provides a high level and broad scope of health care services, and provides ultra specialized care in many fields including: cardiology and cardiac surgery; neurology and neurosurgery, traumatology; genetic research; psychiatry and child development and musculoskeletal conditions, including orthopedics and rheumatology. Fully bilingual and multicultural, the institution respectfully serves an increasingly diverse community in more than 50 languages. www.thechildren.com
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