Autism: Could It Really Be? A Zinc Deficiency?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that autism is present in 1 in 68 children and is almost four times more prevalent in males than females.  Autism speaks classifies autism as “…a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.”  This shows that autism is more often referred to as a spectrum disorder, which implies that there are no exact set symptoms that an individual will exhibit.

There are several ways that autism can be caused in utero.  First, is simply by genetic mutations which is seen in almost every disease in the human species.  However, since there has been a higher prevalence in recent years of autism it is believed that there are more factors than just genetics.  One of the risk factors is a prenatal viral infection of the mother.  Prenatal influenza, rubella, and cytomegalovirus infections show a strong correlation with the development of autism.  Another possible cause is prenatal stress. It has been shown that there is higher prevalence of autism when a mother is stressed while pregnant.  Finally, there is the strong correlation between prevalence of autism and the presence of certain toxins.  The most important of these toxins are valproic acid and thalidomide.  Both of these have demonstrated an increased risk of fetus’ developing autism.

Now before I continue I think it is important to note that autism arises during development in utero and CANNOT BE CAUSED BY VACCINES! Get your child vaccinated so we don’t have any outbreaks occur!

Please excuse my digression.  However, the most interesting potential cause for autism is a zinc deficiency.  Zinc homeostasis is essential for proper brain development and function.  Zinc is also the second most abundant trace element in the body and is involved in many bodily and neuronal processes.  It’s most important function in the human body is its presence in presynaptic vesicles on neurons.  It is important to note that according to Andreas Grabrucker “…in a recent study…the incidence rate of zinc-deficiency in the infant-group aged 0-3-year-old was estimated 43.5% in male and 52.5% in female.”  This shows a very close association between zinc-deficiency and autism.  To make the link even closer a zinc deficiency is known to cause learning and memory impairments, behavioral problems, and can cause seizures.  This is important because there are many autistic patients that also have epilepsy.

Now I know this seems kind of scary because how are you supposed to know if you or your child is getting enough zinc?  Well I can’t help with this problem, but I can help you to know what you should be eating to ensure proper zinc levels.  The top ten foods that contain the highest zinc levels are as follows: Oysters, beef and lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashews, cocoa powder, pork and chicken, beans, and mushrooms.  So you see, it does not matter your diet preference we can all consume the perfect amount of zinc.  By simply doing this it can lower the chance of having an autistic child.