Autism Spectrum Disorder- Metal Toxins and Forever Chemical?

In this rising world of increasing incidences of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the race to find a solution is not yet successful. It is hard because the detection of ASD can happen only after 18 months -to three years of the baby’s birth. There are no medical tests like blood tests or advanced diagnostic tests like X-rays, sonograms, or MRI techniques to detect this. This post attempts to address some recent scientific findings that may help prevent this.


Child autism traits directly correlate with Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)-present in the blood sample of pregnant mothers at a 95% confidence level. PFNA showed the most robust and consistent association: each 1-unit increase in ln-transformed PFNA was associated with more prominent autism-related traits.



Analysis of the similar correlations with a mixture of 6 Forever Chemicals (FC) in the same blood samples in >70% of participants was not associated with the social responsiveness scale (SRS)- a quantitative measure of related autism disorder. 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in May 2023 reported this result.  So what is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism prevalence is increasing, and we are not sure if it is because of the improvement of screening analysis of ASD, awareness, or because fundamental changes are influencing the occurrence of autism disorder. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder

As per CDC –Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe multiple causes of ASD act together to change the most common ways people develop. 

What Causes ASD?

  • Genes Disorder
  • Exposure to Environmental Pollutants
  • Exposure to Food Contaminated with Toxins
  • Having older parents, a difficult birth, or infections during pregnancy are all factors that might increase the risk of ASD.

There is no causal association between parental blood type and childhood ASDs

Difficult Diagnosis

There are no medical tests like blood tests to identify ASD. A child’s behavior as early as younger than 18 months could help identify the symptoms. By age 2, There are specialist diagnoses can be considered reliable. Prevention of ASD Can Be a Fruitful Option. You may prevent it only if you know the cause. 

Besides the PFNA, there are metal toxins like Mercury (Hg), Lead (Pb), and Cadmium (Cd) that show compelling scientific pieces of evidence of ASD Presented in a 2023 NIH review

Metal Toxins


Caution! Lead poisoning can be dangerous and life-threatening. Immediate medical attention is usually recommended.

Prenatal mothers can deposit lead in their bones from previous exposure. If you are wondering about where lead is coming to a prenatal mom? It comes from

  • Drinking water leaching
    • from lead-containing pipes in older buildings’ plumbing,
    • polluted soil near businesses where information is or was utilized, and lead from exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Deteriorated old Lead-based House paints
  • Jewelry, Toys, and cosmetics

Young kids can get lead exposure from similar sources.

Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health and cause well-documented adverse effects such as:

Pic GarbageIncinerationAutism-Spectrum-Disorder-Metal-TxinsToxins-and-Forever-Chemical-Metal-Toxins

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Hearing and speech problems
  • This can cause:
    • Lower IQ
    • Decreased ability to pay attention
    • Underperformance in school

    There is also evidence that childhood exposure to lead can cause long-term harm. The effect of lead exposure takes time to show up. In case of suspicion, a healthcare provider can help you do a blood test to confirm.

    The best cure for lead poisoning is preventing exposure to Lead.


Mercury—is a metal that is prevalent in our environment. Mainly, organic mercury, such as methylmercury (MeHg), which humans often absorb through food, such as freshwater and marine fish, is to blame for human mercury exposure. Methylmercury more readily passes the human brain.  ASD has been linked to higher mercury levels, according to many studies, with an emphasis again on the pre- and early postnatal developmental period. For example, the primary teeth of children with ASD show considerably more significant mercury amounts.

The primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development. Therefore, cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual-spatial skills may affect children exposed to methylmercury as fetuses.

These metals affect the neurons in the brain’s development. In early childhood, the brain is not fully developed. 


8.5% of ASD children aged 0 to 15 exhibited elevated cadmium loads in hair samples []. The most considerable body load was again seen in babies aged 0–3 years. Several studies indicate a link between high cadmium levels and ASD.

Burning of garbage and the use of fertilizer release Cadmium into the environment. They enrich the fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, and water supplies. Additionally, exposure to cigarette smoke may allow cadmium to enter the body. It is worth knowing that the toxic metals Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium enter the body from the same garbage incineration process. The mixture of these metals cumulatively acts as a risk for ASD.

How About Zinc?

Zinc deficiency alone during pregnancy causes ASD-like behavior in mice []. This is an important finding as it supports the hypothesis of metal imbalances being the cause rather than a consequence of ASD. Zinc supplementation reduced ASD symptoms in humans and other ASD animal models.

Stay aware of the toxin exposure around you, mainly with young kids and pregnant moms. While there is no solid conclusion, it is better to be safe than sorry.

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Anusuya Choudhury

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