Researchers need baby teeth for autism study

Researchers need baby teeth for autism study

A research team from the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio is asking families to donate their children’s baby teeth to the Autism Tooth Fairy Study.

Researchers are asking families to submit their children’s baby teeth after they fall out. The study compares the teeth of children with and without autism. Right now, the need is greatest for the teeth of children without autism.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are developmental disabilities that can cause major social, communication and behavioral problems. The cause of autism is unknown and there is no cure.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies estimate that 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder.  (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html)

Researchers now understand that autism is related to a combination of genetics and exposure to toxic chemicals. “Our team is looking at environmental exposure factors by studying baby teeth,” explained Ray Palmer, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Health Science Center’s Autism Tooth Fairy study.

“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 Dr. Palmer, associate professor of family and community medicine in the School of Medicine. “We currently need teeth from children without autism for comparison. This will help solve the mystery of which toxic chemical exposures may most influence the development of autism.”

 For more information about the study, visit https://makelivesbetter.uthscsa.edu/autismtoothfairy, call (210) 274-4009, send an email to heilbrun@uthscsa.edu, or visit the Autism Tooth Fairy Study Facebook page.

 

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