Thanks to new studies, parents could be learning a lot sooner whether or not their child is autistic. According to the Autism Science Foundation, autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is "a brain-based disorder characterized by social-communication challenges and restricted repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests." Scientists have been learning a lot about the disorder since it was first described in 1943. Now, a breakthrough in research involving baby teeth may lead to early diagnosis.
What do baby teeth have to do with autism?
Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC studied the baby teeth of sibling pairs, one of whom has autism and the other does not. Teeth have layers, like the rings in trees. The rings in trees can explain past weather patterns. The rings in baby teeth reveal exposures that we experience, even in the mother's womb. By studying the baby teeth using lasers, the researchers learned that the teeth of autistic children share something in common. During the third trimester of their development, zinc and copper were not working together the way they were supposed to. This study was first tested in Sweden, and then in New York. Other similar studies have been performed by different research groups in Texas and the UK.
What is the big deal about zinc and copper?
Finding this specific pattern in the baby teeth of autistic children means that it can be used to predict whether a child will be autistic. So far this method has about 90 percent accuracy, which is quite good. When a child is diagnosed early on with autism, then that child can undergo therapy earlier. Although this development is in its early stages, it sheds some hope on the future of autism.
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