Environmental exposure to lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), manganese (Mn), and aluminum (Al) has been associated with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We conducted a pilot study during May 2015–May 2107 to estimate blood concentrations of six metals (Pb, Hg, As, Cd, Mn, and Al) and identify their associated factors for children with ASD or suspected of having ASD in Romania. Sixty children, age 2–8 years, were administered versions of ADOS or ADI-R translated from English to Romanian. After assessment, 2–3 mL of blood was obtained and analyzed for the concentrations of the six metals. The mean age of children was 51.9 months and about 90% were male. More than half (65%) of the children were born in Bucharest. Over 90% of concentrations of As and Cd were below limits of detection. Geometric mean concentrations of Pb, Mn, Al, and Hg were 1.14 μg/dL, 10.84 μg/L, 14.44 μg/L, and 0.35 μg/L, respectively. Multivariable linear regression analysis revealed that children who were female, had less educated parents, exhibited pica, and ate cold breakfast (e.g., cereal), watermelon, and lamb had significantly higher concentrations of Pb compared to their respective referent categories (all p 〈 0.05 except for eating lamb, which was marginally significant, p = 0.053). Although this is the first study that provides data on concentrations of the six metals for Romanian children with ASD, the findings from this study could be useful for designing future epidemiologic studies for investigating the role of these six metals in ASD in Romanian children.
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering