Can deciduous teeth (baby teeth) indicate a child has autism?

Researchers are studying childrens’ baby teeth to detect indicators of autism and hopefully develop steps for further prevention and treatment.

Autism spectrum disorders include a variety of conditions that impact brain development, perception, and social skills. While autism is often characterized by repetitive behaviors, its symptoms and severity vary considerably between affected individuals.

Scientists are still struggling to understand what causes autism spectrum disorders.

Researchers believe that genetics, environmental factors, and pregnancy-related complications can increase a child’s risk of developing autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions.1

In recent years, reported rates of autism have risen significantly. Today, up to an estimated 2.6% of children are diagnosed with autism or exhibit related symptoms.2

No complete cure, but early intervention improves an individual’s outcome greatly.

While there is no cure for autism, early diagnoses and interventions are often critical in assisting children with autism lead more independent, fulfilling lives. For many children, autism-related symptoms appear by 18 months of age.3 However, a growing body of research suggests that autism spectrum disorders may be evidenced not only by behavioral patterns but by atypical physical developments, too.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorders, or ASD, are a group of neurodevelopmental conditions that can affect:

  • How people communicate
  • How people learn
  • How people behave
  • How people socialize with one another 4

Early indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Since autism-related disorders often present a wide variety of highly divergent signs and symptoms, autism is typically considered a “spectrum” of disorders that share certain, similar traits. The early indicators of autism spectrum disorders could include:

  • Communications deficits, such as a lack of babbling or pointing by age 1
  • Failure to respond to a name or familiar face
  • Unexpected loss of language or social skills earlier acquired
  • Poor eye contact or an inability to maintain eye contact
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as the excessive collecting, counting, or lining up of toys

Later indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

The later indicators of autism could include the following:

  • Social skills impairments
  • Impaired ability to initiate a conversation, sustain a conversation, or make friends
  • Repetitive or atypical use of language
  • Unusually focused or specific interests
  • Inflexible and obsessive adherence to routines and rituals 

For some persons with autism, symptoms are mild and do not interfere in their ability to live happy, healthy, and productive lives. However, autism spectrum disorders and their related their symptoms can vary greatly between people.

Studies of children with autism have found elevated levels of lead and arsenic. 5

Autism and Baby Teeth

Deciduous teeth (also known as primary teeth and most commonly as ‘baby teeth’) are very temporary: they begin forming in the fetus at around 6 weeks, with further development occurring throughout the third and fourth months of gestation. After a child is born, their teeth quickly protrude, with growth finished within the span of two to three short years. By the time a child turns 6, their baby teeth start to loosen and shed. Most children lose all of their baby teeth between the ages of 10 and 12.

While the growth and shedding of baby teeth usually occurs in predictable stages, a child’s dental development can record far more than the passage of time.

Deciduous teeth (baby teeth) offer a record of fetal development.

In a certain sense, a baby’s teeth form an almost-unbroken chronological record of the substances, chemicals, and compounds absorbed by the fetus while it is still inside the womb. Since prenatal babies grow a new layer of teeth every single day, their emergent dental tissue can document a fetus’s exposure to chemical elements like copper and zinc.

Twin study of autism in Sweden

A recent study in Sweden inspected the dental development of two twin siblings, one of whom was autistic and the other of whom was not.6 By analyzing the babies’ reconstructed exposures, scientists found that the autistic sibling had abnormal variations of copper and zinc in their teeth.7

Similar studies from the United States and United Kingdom delivered similar results: by evaluating siblings’ prenatal exposures to zinc, copper, and other chemicals, scientists could predict whether they would later develop an autism spectrum disorder or autism-related symptoms.8

“Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury”

–U.S. Congressional Report, (February 4, 2021). 9

Learn more about the connectionsbetween heavy metals and autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers suggest baby teeth can be used to detect autism.

Dr. Manish Arora, an environmental epidemiologist and exposure biologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, suggests that dental analyses could help health care practitioners identify autism spectrum disorders, or ASD, even earlier.

“The results of this study are important because they identify specific pathways related to autism pathology, and could lead to an early warning system for ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders,” Dr. Arora said in a press release published on the Mount Sinai website.10  “If ASD is diagnosed at a younger age, parents can take advantage of the early introduction of therapies.”11

Two consistent abnormalities found in people diagnosed with autism are “Purkinje cell loss and increased brain volume…both can be caused by environmental factors, specifically heavy metal toxicity.” 12

The Importance of Diagnosing and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders Early

Scientists may not be able to understand what causes autism, or how it is best treated. However, experts agree that the early identification of autism is a critical necessity. 13

Treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) involves interventions that help train a child to manage the condition and develop health habits.

When autism is diagnosed early, parents and their health care providers can intervene, helping the child break bad habits and improve their social and communication skills.14 Physicians typically structure interventions to:

  • Build social skills
  • Improve communications strategies
  • Enhance the development of a broad variety of skills
  • Normalize children’s motor-skills and cognitive faculties
  • Prevent or limit compulsive habits

By providing children with the tools and strategies needed to overcome life’s challenges, parents can empower their children to live more independent, more fulfilling lives.

Overcoming the High Costs of Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment and Therapy

Unfortunately, even when autism is diagnosed early, families often find themselves struggling to overcome the high costs of high-quality health care.

According to a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, the costs of autism treatments—including behavioral therapy, skills training, and assisted living expenses—exceed $236 billion annually.15 In the same study, researchers estimate that the lifetime cost of an autism diagnosis could range anywhere between $1.43 and $2.44 million.16

Even for families with comprehensive health insurance policies, the expenses associated with intensive interventions and medical support can be crippling.

However, many families have options beyond insolvency and heartache.

While the exact causes of autism are unknown, they likely encompass a combination of risk factors related to a child’s genetics, environment, and prenatal substance exposures.

An alarming series of groundbreaking reports suggest that common over-the-counter medications, including Tylenol® and other non-prescription painkillers, could significantly increase a child’s risk of developing autism spectrum disorders, as well as neurodevelopmental conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

For years, the makers and sellers of medications like Tylenol® have insisted that their products are safe—even for pregnant women and expecting mothers.

However, studies now indicate that pregnant women’s use of Tylenol® and other pain-killing acetaminophens could harm their unborn children. Prenatal acetaminophen consumption raises the risk of the fetus developing autism or ADHD. If you believe you or your loved one sustained a developmental injury like autism spectrum disorder or ADHD as a result of a contaminated baby food or acetaminophen taken while in vitro, speak a personal injury attorney at Justinian & Associates.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that if your child has symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, you should contact a healthcare professional to have your child screened for ASD.

  • Info about screening for ASD is available on the CDC Website.
  • There is no cure for ASD, but there are autism therapies that can greatly help a child’s development.

Taking Tylenol® (Acetaminophen / Paracetamol) while pregnant can affect the child’s brain development. 17 18

“We have sufficient data from multiple populations and studies to say that acetaminophen is not as safe as it is considered.” 19

Prenatal acetaminophen consumption has been connected to:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Language delay (in girls)
  • Decreased Intelligence Quotient (IQ).20

We Are Warriors For The Injured

Our only goal is justice for our clients, whatever that means for them.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) attributable to acetaminophen taken during pregnancy, now is the time to seek legal assistance.

You need experienced attorneys on your side.

Our Austin and San Antonio mass tort lawyers have successfully represented dozens of victims injured by dangerous pharmaceuticals and other hazardous substances. That’s exactly why we were founded.

The legal team at Justinian and Associates has years of experience dealing with personal injury cases involving health conditions like ASD, and medications that are far more dangerous than represented by the companies selling them.

We have the knowledge, experience, resources and trained investigators to take on large adversaries like billion dollar manufacturing companies.

All we do is fight for injured victims.  And we do not accept defeat.

Unless we get you money for your injuries, you don’t pay us a dime.

Call, text or email us for a free consultation, with no obligation.

(855) 452-5529

[email protected]

Speak to an Austin personal injury attorney from Justinian & Associates (not a “screener” or paralegal) to understand your rights.


[1] “What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

[2] “Explaining the increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders: the proportion attributable to changes in reporting practices.” Hansen, Stefan N., Diana E. Schendel, and Erik T. Parner., JAMA pediatrics 169.1 (2015): 56-62.

[3] “When do children usually show symptoms of autism?” National Institutes of Health website (Jan 31, 2017).

[4] Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health website (Sept. 2015).

[5] Analysis of lead, arsenic and calcium content in the hair of children with autism spectrum disorder, Joanna Fiłon, Jolanta Ustymowicz-Farbiszewska & Elżbieta Krajewska-Kułak, BioMed Central (BMC) Public Health (2020).

[6] “The roots of autism and ADHD twin study in Sweden (RATSS).” Bölte, Sven, et al., Twin Research and Human Genetics 17.3 (2014): 164-176.

[7] “The roots of autism and ADHD twin study in Sweden (RATSS).” Bölte, Sven, et al., Twin Research and Human Genetics 17.3 (2014): 164-176.

[8] “Dynamical features in fetal and postnatal zinc-copper metabolic cycles predict the emergence of autism spectrum disorder.” Curtin, Paul, et al., Science advances 4.5 (2018): eaat1293.

[9] Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury, Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, Committee on Oversight and Reform U.S. House of Representatives (February 4, 2021).

[10] Zinc and Copper Metabolic Cycles in Baby Teeth Linked to Autism. Mount Sinai Hospital website, Newsroom (May 30, 2018).

[11] Zinc and Copper Metabolic Cycles in Baby Teeth Linked to Autism. Mount Sinai Hospital website, Newsroom (May 30, 2018).

[12] Evidence of toxicity, oxidative stress, and neuronal insult in autism, Janet K. Kern, Anne M. Jones, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (2006).

[13] The Importance of Early Diagnosis and Intensive Therapy for Children with Autism.

[14] Elder, Jennifer Harrison, et al. “Clinical impact of early diagnosis of autism on the prognosis and parent–child relationships.” Psychology research and behavior management (2017).

[15] Study: Price tag of autism in the U.S. exceeds $236 billion per year. Karen Kaplan, LA Times (Jun3 9, 2014).

[16] “Costs of autism spectrum disorders in the United Kingdom and the United States.” Buescher, Ariane VS, et al., JAMA pediatrics 168.8 (2014): 721-728.

[17] A Systematic Review of the Link Between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Acetaminophen: A Mystery to Resolve, interpreting data from Parker SE, Collett BR, Werler MM: Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy and childhood behavioural problems: Discrepancies between mother- and teacher-reported outcomes. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2020, 34:299-308. 10.1111/ppe.12601).

[18] Paracetamol use during pregnancy—a call for precautionary action, Bauer, A.Z., Swan, S.H., Kriebel, D., Liew, Z., Taylor, H.S., Bornehag, C.G., Andrade, A.M., Olsen, J., Jensen, R.H., Mitchell, R.T. and Skakkebaek, N.E., 2021. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 17(12), pp.757-766.

[19] A Systematic Review of the Link Between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Acetaminophen: A Mystery to Resolve, interpreting data from Parker SE, Collett BR, Werler MM: Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy and childhood behavioural problems: Discrepancies between mother- and teacher-reported outcomes. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2020, 34:299-308. 10.1111/ppe.12601).

[20] Paracetamol use during pregnancy—a call for precautionary action, Bauer, A.Z., Swan, S.H., Kriebel, D., Liew, Z., Taylor, H.S., Bornehag, C.G., Andrade, A.M., Olsen, J., Jensen, R.H., Mitchell, R.T. and Skakkebaek, N.E., 2021. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 17(12), pp.757-766.