Ancestry of pink disease (Infantile Acrodynia) identified as a risk factor for autism spectrum disorders

Shandley, Kerrie and Austin, David W. 2011, Ancestry of pink disease (Infantile Acrodynia) identified as a risk factor for autism spectrum disorders, Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A, vol. 74, no. 18, pp. 1185-1194, doi: 10.1080/15287394.2011.590097.

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Title Ancestry of pink disease (Infantile Acrodynia) identified as a risk factor for autism spectrum disorders
Author(s) Shandley, Kerrie
Austin, David W.ORCID iD for Austin, David W. orcid.org/0000-0002-1296-3555
Journal name Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A
Volume number 74
Issue number 18
Start page 1185
End page 1194
Total pages 10
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2011
ISSN 1528-7394
1087-2620
Summary Pink disease (infantile acrodynia) was especially prevalent in the first half of the 20th century. Primarily attributed to exposure to mercury (Hg) commonly found in teething powders, the condition was developed by approximately 1 in 500 exposed children. The differential risk factor was identified as an idiosyncratic sensitivity to Hg. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have also been postulated to be produced by Hg. Analogous to the pink disease experience, Hg exposure is widespread yet only a fraction of exposed children develop an ASD, suggesting sensitivity to Hg may also be present in children with an ASD. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that individuals with a known hypersensitivity to Hg (pink disease survivors) may be more likely to have descendants with an ASD. Five hundred and twenty-two participants who had previously been diagnosed with pink disease completed a survey on the health outcomes of their descendants. The prevalence rates of ASD and a variety of other clinical conditions diagnosed in childhood (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, Fragile X syndrome, and Down syndrome) were compared to well-established general population prevalence rates. The results showed the prevalence rate of ASD among the grandchildren of pink disease survivors (1 in 25) to be significantly higher than the comparable general population prevalence rate (1 in 160). The results support the hypothesis that Hg sensitivity may be a heritable/genetic risk factor for ASD.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/15287394.2011.590097
Field of Research 179999 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2011, Taylor & Francis
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30052233

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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