Blood Mercury Concentrations in CHARGE Study Children With and Without Autism

Source: 
Environmental Health Perspectives, Hertz-Picciotto, Green, Delwiche, Hansen, Walker, Pessah
Year Published: 
2010

The Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study enrolled children 2-5 years of age. After diagnostic evaluation, they analyzed three groups: AU/ASD, non-AU/ASD with developmental delay (DD), and population-based TD controls. Mothers were interviewed about household, medical, and dietary exposures. Blood Hg was measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to predict blood Hg from diagnostic status controlling for Hg sources.  Fish consumption strongly predicted total Hg concentration. AU/ASD children ate less fish. After adjustment for fish and other Hg sources, blood Hg levels in AU/ASD children were similar to those of TD children ; this was also true among non-fish eaters. The direct effect of AU/ASD diagnosis on blood Hg not through the indirect pathway of altered fish consumption was a 12% reduction. DD children had lower blood Hg concentrations in all analyses. Dental amalgams in children with gum-chewing or teeth-grinding habits predicted higher levels. After accounting for dietary and other differences in Hg exposures, total Hg in blood was neither elevated nor reduced in CHARGE Study preschoolers with AU/ASD compared with unaffected controls, and resembled those of nationally representative samples.