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

Version 2 2024-06-03, 20:00
Version 1 2014-10-28, 10:03
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 20:00 authored by K Shandley, David AustinDavid Austin
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.

History

Journal

Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A

Volume

74

Pagination

1185-1194

Location

London, England

ISSN

1528-7394

eISSN

1087-2620

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2011, Taylor & Francis

Issue

18

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

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