A new study highlights a link between autism and metabolic cycles of certain nutrients–some of which can be detected on baby teeth.
Due to their unique composition, teeth are already a reliable tool for forensic investigation and make for strong evidence in courts.
Teeth enamel is the hardest part of the body. That’s why teeth remain and preserve DNA for a long time after a person’s death.
You probably have seen those skulls from ancient times that still have some teeth in a good shape.
The usefulness of dental diachronic analysis goes beyond forensic odontology or bioarcheology.
Teeth begin developing while in the womb and continue growing for years after birth, thus making their successive layers act like annual tree rings in that they record growth conditions.
Teeth also preserve “footprints” of the environmental conditions they have been exposed to.
Last year, a study on baby teeth (funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) linked the teeth’s exposure of certain chemicals to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The teeth of children with autism were found to contain more lead and lower levels of manganese and zinc compared to children without autism.
Now, another study sheds more light on baby teeth’s role in autism research.
Baby Teeth Provide Clues to Predict Autism Occurrence
Research into ASD using teeth as an investigative tool continues. Yet another study emphasizes the role baby teeth could play in that tooth-as-tool approach.
The study comes from the Institute for Exposomic Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York).
“We have identified cycles in nutrient metabolism that are apparently critical to healthy neurodevelopment, and are dysregulated in autism spectrum disorder,” said Paul Curtin, coauthor of the study.
Using the measures of nutrients present in metabolic cycles, researchers built algorithms to predict the likelihood of ASD development in children.
“This is the first study in the world to generate a 90 percent accurate fetal and early childhood biomarker of ASD using a longitudinal analysis of distinct metabolic pathways, and to replicate it in four independent study populations,” said researchers. “The results of this research could produce a new diagnostic approach for ASD early in life, before the disorder appears, and could catalyze new treatments and prevention strategies.”
Full results of the study (Dynamical features in fetal and postnatal zinc-copper metabolic cycles predict the emergence of autism spectrum disorder) were published in Science Advances.