News Release 

Researchers identify metabolic cycles in baby teeth linked to ADHD and autism in children

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

(New York, NY - September 25, 2019) -- Mount Sinai researchers have identified elemental signatures in baby teeth that are unique to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, and cases when both neurodevelopment conditions are present, which suggests that the metabolic regulation of nutrients and toxins play a role in these diseases, according to a study published in Translational Psychiatry in September.

The researchers used baby teeth to reconstruct prenatal and early-life exposures to nutrients and toxic elements in neurotypical children and children with autism, ADHD, or ADHD and autism. They found that each condition has a unique metabolic signature, which shows a combination of dysregulation in metabolic pathways involving essential and toxic elements.

"Environmental epidemiologists typically study exposure to essential and toxic elements by examining how much of a given element a child was exposed to, but our work indicates that the way a child metabolizes environmental exposures is essential to healthy neurodevelopment," said Paul Curtin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "The discovery that autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and the combined presentation of autism and ADHD each have a unique metabolic signature can inform future studies on what might cause the disorders. It could help us determine the pathways implicated in the different diseases, which, in turn, could inform the development of treatment and prevention strategies."

While the method is not a diagnostic tool, the metabolic signatures were present prenatally which may have implications for the development of early detection methods. This study examined the baby teeth of 74 children enrolled in the Roots of Autism and ADHD Twin Study in Sweden (RATSS), which included twin siblings with and without autism and ADHD. Researchers compared elemental metabolism in neurotypical children to those with ADHD, autism or those diagnosed with both autism and ADHD.

Christine Austin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and member of Mount Sinai's Institute for Exposomic Research; Manish Arora, PhD, the Edith J. Baerwald Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Sven Bölte, PhD, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Science at the Karolinska Institutet Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Karolinska Institutet, and his team, all made major contributions to this study.

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About The Institute for Exposomic Research

The Institute for Exposomic Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is the world's first research institute devoted to the intensive study of the exposome, or the totality of environmental influences on human health. The mission of the Institute is to understand how the complex mix of nutritional, chemical, and social environments affect health, disease, and development later in life and to translate those findings into new strategies for prevention and treatment. For more information, visit http://icahn.mssm.edu/exposomics.

About Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology and the South Nassau Communities Hospital is ranked 35th nationally for Urology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ranked regionally.

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