Texas scientists are taking an unusual approach to find clues to what causes autism. They're studying baby teeth.
Autism causes a disruption in people's ability to communicate and socialize. And it's a growing problem.
"Autism rates are one in 88 and nobody knows why," said Dr. Ray Palmer of the University of Texas Science Center. "This is one of the most severe epidemics affecting children. It's really a wide open field and it's way overdue."
Now, the Science Center is taking donated teeth from children with and without Autism. Those teeth are then ground into powder, made into liquid and gas and put through a process called mass spectrometry.
The process can reveal things like pesticides, plastics and medicine the children were exposed to dating back to when they were still in their mother's womb. It's called Tooth Fairy Studies.
"It's been done by looking at blood or hair analysis, but that's only a snapshot in time of recent exposure. It doesn't provide a historical record of exposure like the teeth do. So, when the teeth are forming, that's a record of what you've been exposed to in utero," Palmer said.
The group Autism Speaks has provided $100,000 for the study.
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