Baby Teeth May Provide Insight Into Autism!

Family Health

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

The proof is in the pudding, and in this case the pudding may be baby teeth!

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) discovered that baby teeth from children with autism contained higher levels of toxic lead and lower levels of the essential minerals zinc and manganese, compared to baby teeth from children who did not have autism.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. “Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus,” WHO says.

This study may support prior research suggesting exposure to toxic metals (like lead) and deficiencies in critical nutrients may negatively impact brain development in the womb or during early childhood.

As a mother, I found the information about lead in this NIH study especially shocking and scary. It highlights the importance of arming ourselves with the knowledge of knowing how to protect ourselves, expectant mothers and future children from this toxic mineral.

How does lead get into our bodies in the first place?

Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust. It is normal to be exposed to low levels of lead by just breathing air, drinking water and eating food. However, as the world has advanced technologically and agriculturally we have become to some extent at risk of lead exposure through activities including mining, smelting, manufacturing and recycling. Some countries still use lead-based paint, which is a major risk especially for babies and children who may eat paint chips and are constantly putting their hands in their mouths. Babies and young children may also be exposed from swallowing dust or dirt that contains lead.

Although lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978, there are plenty of old homes and buildings built prior to this date that may have lead-based paint.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “[a]pproximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.”

Unfortunately for some, lead exposure may be an occupational hazard. Auto repairers (some car parts may contain lead), construction workers, plumbers (pipes may contain lead) and more may be at risk. To see if your occupation is risky for lead exposure, click here.

People with these types of jobs who have children have to be mindful lead may be on their work clothes, and they could expose their children if they come into close contact with them at home without changing first.

Less common sources of lead exposure include some traditional medicines, cosmetics, ceramic and metal cookware and imported toys.

The WHO says children absorb 4–5 times as much ingested lead as adults from a given source.

To see the symptoms of lead poisoning, click here.

There is not a clear safe level for lead in the body, but the CDC says children with blood levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) is too high. You can test lead levels in the body through blood testing. Check out our pH toxins panel, which can help with testing for lead levels and other toxic metals that you may have been exposed to.

How else can you be proactive?

According to the Mayo Clinic, we can be proactive about preventing lead exposure by doing the following:

  • Wash hands and toys regularly.
  • Clean dusty surfaces.
  • Maintain your home. If you know your home has lead-based paint, look out for chipped paint and repair where necessary. You can also talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home for lead.
  • Remove shoes before you enter your house.
  • Run cold water for at least a minute if you have old plumbing with lead pipes.
  • Eat a healthy diet. “Regular meals and good nutrition might help lower lead absorption. Children especially need enough calcium, vitamin C and iron in their diets to help keep lead from being absorbed.”
  • Prevent children from playing on soil, which may contain lead. Sand boxes and grassy areas are better options.

Additionally, if you have a job that may expose you to lead remove and wash your work clothes as soon as you enter your home. Shower before coming in close contact with your children.

Pregnant women and children should try to avoid being in homes built before 1978.

It is unclear from the NIH study why lower levels of the essential minerals zinc and manganese were found in the baby teeth from children with autism. However, what we do know is that it is important a pregnant mother ensures that she gets adequate nutrients including zinc and manganese. This way she may improve the likelihood that her unborn child receives these critical minerals.

Zinc is usually found in red meat, fish, poultry, oysters, cheese, shrimp, crab, legumes, whole grains, cooked greens, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. This mineral also helps heal wounds, fights off bacteria and viruses and helps make proteins and DNA.

To get more manganese in your diet, eat more grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and pineapples. This mineral also helps form connective tissue, bones, sex hormones and helps with blood clotting. It is even needed for normal brain and nerve function.

We cannot reiterate enough - healthy food is medicine. To make sure you are taking all steps possible to help prevent lead exposure and autism in children, check out “Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy.”

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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