Autism News: Grandchildren of Pink Disease Survivors Found to have Greater Autism Risk

Autism News Update:

Survivors of Pink Disease (Acrodynia) Found to Have Grandchildren with Higher Risk of Developing Autism Possibly Due to Increased Mercury Sensitivity

Autism Research Looks at Possible Link Between Pink Disease (Acrodynia) Survivors and Autism Risk Due to Increased Mercury Sensitivity

The debate about whether or not mercury exposure is a risk factor for autism continues to rage on.  Autism research involving mercury exposure in ancestors diagnosed with acrodynia (pink disease) and its relationship as an autism risk factor in grandchildren was recently conducted.  The results were published in an article titled Ancestry of Pink Disease (Infantile Acrodynia) Identified as a Risk Factor for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The study looked at individuals who had suffered from pink disease (acrodynia).  These individuals had been exposed to high mercury (Hg) levels as infants mainly through mercury contained in teething tablets.  About 1 in 500 was affected by the disease with those affected being found to have a sensitivity to mercury.

The authors hypothesized that individuals who had survived pink disease would be more likely to have descendants with autism due to inherited genetic mercury sensitivity.  The authors make the assumption that those who developed pink disease (due to mercury sensitivity) would likely have descendants that expressed similar sensitivity to the heavy metal.

The study included 522 individuals who had been diagnosed with acrodynia earlier in life.  They were asked to fill out a survey focusing on the health of their descendants.  The survey focused on childhood diagnoses including autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, epilepsy, and Fragile X syndrome.

The rate of autism in the grandchildren of acrodynia survivors was found to be 1 in 22.  The baseline level used by the researchers for the general population for autism prevalence was 1 in 160.

The authors state that their findings suggest that sensitivity to mercury may play a role in the development of autism in certain individuals that may have genetic risk factors for mercury sensitivity.

The research involving pink disease in ancestry and autism risk factor was epublished in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A in July of 2011, with the print version scheduled to be released on September 15, 2011.

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