Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, are asking families to donate their children’s baby teeth to the Autism Tooth Fairy Study. Their work will compare the teeth of children with and without autism, and the researchers particularly need teeth from children without autism.
Current research suggests that autism is related to a combination of genetics and exposure to toxic chemicals, though autism’s cause is unknown, and there is no cure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
“Baby teeth begin to form in utero. Like the rings on the inside of a tree, baby teeth hold the history of the chemicals the baby has been exposed to during development. By analyzing the content of baby teeth, we have already identified medications, pesticides, flame retardants, plastics, and many other toxic chemicals,” said Ray Palmer, PhD, principal investigator of the study.
“We currently need teeth from children without autism for comparison,” Palmer said. “This will help solve the mystery of which toxic chemical exposures may most influence the development of autism.”