Researchers suggest that a baby's teeth could help diagnose autism. The study, which was conducted by a team of researchers in New York City, showed how the growth of teeth can be the key to determine if babies will suffer from the disorder.
It's In The Tooth
The paper focused on how children metabolize metals, which is critical to the neurodevelopment in early life. A disparity in this process is linked to autism spectrum disorder. The researchers noted that children form a new layer of teeth each day as they get older, which shows the chemicals in their body are circulating. The authors of the study examined 200 baby teeth from twins in Sweden. The team of scientists used lasers to examine whether zinc-copper cycles were different in the ones who had autism.
Results show that zinc-copper cycles in fetuses and children who suffer from autism were affected in different ways than those who did not have the disorder. The scientists were able to replicate this same process for children in the United Kingdom and the United States.
The data allowed the team to create an algorithm that was 90 percent accurate in distinguishing children's teeth that had autism and those that did not.
This study was published in the journal Science Advances.
Can This Help Prevent ASD?
Autism is described as a range of conditions that are categorized by challenges in social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviors.
The most obvious signs of autism appear in children between the ages of 2-3 years old. However, there have been some cases where it was detected in as early as 18 months old. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has estimated that 1 in 59 children have ASD in the United States.
One of the authors from the study, Dr. Manish Arora, stated that one of the big challenges in regards to autism is developing a biochemical assay that can identify those who are at risk of having autism later in life.
"At present, the commonly used diagnostic tools are based on clinical assessments and observations, which cannot be used at birth," Dr. Arora continued.
Dr. Andrew Adesman commented that the analyses were done after the teeth were shed and it may not allow other health experts to determine if the child has autism. Adesman, however, said that it can help other studies identify other prenatal markers for autism.