Food and Behaviour Research

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Infantile zinc deficiency: Association with autism spectrum disorders

Yasuda H, Yoshida K, Yasuda Y, Tsutsui T (2011) Scientific Reports 1, Article Number 129, doi:10.1038/srep00129   

Web URL: Full free text available from 'Scientific Reports' here


Elucidation of the pathogenesis and effective treatment of autism spectrum disorders is one of the challenges today.

In this study, we examine hair zinc concentrations for 1,967 children with autistic disorders (1,553 males and 414 females), and show considerable association with zinc deficiency.

Histogram of hair zinc concentration was non-symmetric with tailing in lower range, and 584 subjects were found to have lower zinc concentrations than −2 standard deviation level of its reference range (86.3–193ppm). The incidence rate of zinc deficiency in infant group aged 0–3 year-old was estimated 43.5 % in male and 52.5 % in female. The lowest zinc concentration of 10.7 ppm was detected in a 2-year-old boy, corresponding to about 1/12 of the control mean level.

These findings suggest that infantile zinc deficiency may epigenetically contribute to the pathogenesis of autism and nutritional approach may yield a novel hope for its treatment and prevention.


For a summary of this research and its implications, see the associated news article and FAB comment:

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