Little is known about the etiology or risk factors for autism, a disease affecting 1 in 50 children in the U.S. While genetic and environmental factors are thought to act together, the specific mechanisms are not known and the measurement of environmental risk factors during critical periods of neurodevelopment has been lacking. This case-control study seeks to apply a novel dental biomarker of early life metal exposure, including in utero, to identify risk factors for ASD. Beyond looking at exposure intensity, we will be able to identify differences in exposure timing between cases and controls. This will allow us to identify critical windows when exposure, even at low levels, increases the risk of ASD. Using the proposed biomarker, we will directly assess fetal exposure, and will not rely on maternal biomarkers which may only provide an indirect measure of fetal exposure to metals. This work will have substantial impact on epidemiologic investigations of the relation of early life chemical exposures to ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders as it can be used to objectively reconstruct both exposure intensity and timing.

Public Health Relevance

Little is known about the causes of autism. This proposal seeks to apply a novel dental biomarker of early life metal exposure, including in utero, to identify risk factors for ASD. Beyond looking at exposure intensity, our application is novel in that we will be able to identify differences in exposure timing between cases and controls. This will allow us to identify critical windows when exposure, even at low levels, increases the risk of ASD.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
1R21ES023604-01A1
Application #
8769892
Study Section
Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology Study Section (NAME)
Program Officer
Lawler, Cindy P
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Texas Health Science Center
Department
Family Medicine
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
City
San Antonio
State
TX
Country
United States
Zip Code
78229