Researchers need baby teeth for autism study

baby teeth
baby teeth

Has the Tooth Fairy recently visited your house? If so, you can help scientists unravel the mystery of autism by donating your child’s baby teeth to the Autism Tooth Fairy study.

Researchers from the UT Health Science Center San Antonio are asking Rio Grande Valley 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.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies estimate that 1 in 45 children have autism.

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, call 956-296-1519 or send an email to

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