Studies Show Zinc-Copper Rhythmicity and Zinc Levels May Play a Role

A study released in Science Advances shows that baby teeth can show the relationship between copper and zinc— levels present both in-utero and post-natally—can be a predictor in diagnosing autism.

According to study authors, “Using novel tooth-matrix biomarkers that provide direct measures of fetal elemental uptake, we developed a predictive model to distinguish participants who would be diagnosed with ASD in childhood from those who did not develop the disorder.”

The study authors used laser ablation to take 152 samples from each tooth. Children while in utero and in the early months of life, add a new layer to their baby teeth before they erupt. Researchers found that using these samples, they could predict with 90% accuracy which children would later develop autism.

Earlier studies such as one from Australia that links zinc deficiency to communications issues in brain cells. Children with autism frequently have zinc deficiencies. Now researchers must determine if zinc supplementation will help and if so, at what levels. Too much zinc can be toxic.


UVA Child Psychology Experiment

Today, we went to the University of Virginia’s Child Psychology Department to do a quick computer test for an experiment they are conducting with autistic children.

The test consisted of alternating screens of nine pictures– eight of different kinds of frogs and one of a snake. The boys were asked to identify the snake on each screen. Then the pictures would shuffle changing their location on the screen and the type of snake shown.

Nathan decided he didn’t want to do it after a couple of screeens. Peter was able to complete the experiment but every three screens was rewarded with being able to open and close the door to the room (he was very stressed by the new location and opened and closed doors repeatedly when we got there).

Peter got a few screens wrong and instead of a snake picked a frog. But I noticed that he was trying to do the screens really fast and some of the frog colors (particularly red) resembled the pictures of the snakes with the same colors if you just glanced at the photo. It was funny because when he touched the screen and picked the wrong picture he would pause and look at the screen again (which had moved on and shuffled the pictures) as if he realized he was wrong. I think most of the time he knew when he had picked the wrong photo but it was always after the fact.

UVA told me that the purpose of the experiment was to see if children with autism could identify threatening or scary objects as easily as neurotypical children. It was interesting to see that Peter could identify the snakes but it seemed he did this almost as much by color as by shape.

Converging Worlds

I just posted this on my political blog. And although I generally try not to mix the content or purpose of the two blogs, today I feel I must:

I just received an e-mail from someone at Britannica Blog who thought I would be interested in a recent post on autism and presidential politics. She was right. I have to say that although my focus on this [my political] blog is more traditional right to life issues, there is a convergence for me on autism, the right to life and the elections.

Let me explain–

Autism is not a condition that can be screened for before birth. That said, I have seen some pretty obnoxious comments on the internet. Things along the lines of “if these people know their kid is going to have a disability, why don’t they have an abortion?” My concern is that most insurance companies in a vast majority of states (last I checked, 42 of them) do NOT cover therapy for children with autism. Our insurance company does but that’s because the employer is based in Washington, D.C. and purchases its insurance package from the state of Maryland– which is one of eight states that DOES require insurance companies to cover services for autism.

The monthly total for our sons’ two hours/each a week private therapy is approximately $4400. No, that’s not a typo.

Currently, research is focusing on genetic causes for autism and my fear is that the day will come when we will be able to screen for autism just like Down syndrome. And just like Down syndrome, approximately 90 percent of those babies testing positive will be aborted.

The very fact that parents can go bankrupt paying for services their insurance companies do not cover could encourage parents to turn to abortion.

This is very much a right to life issue. Thus far, autism has played a minor role in the presidential race and certainly abortion, as the larger issue, has played a much more significant role.

But with 1 out of every 150 children being diagnosed with autism, the impact of this issue in the next presidency, and on the pro-life cause, cannot be understated.