A new study shows a link between mercury in a baby’s blood and autism in the next year.
The research, which appears in the journal Pediatrics, was led by researchers at the University of British Columbia.
The results of the study are not surprising given the findings of earlier research which linked autism and a high amount of mercury in fetuses.
The authors said they believe the findings may be due to mercury exposure in utero.
The researchers are calling for more research to examine whether a mother’s exposure to mercury is related to autism later in life.
“The finding that maternal exposure to low levels of mercury is associated with higher risk of autism in offspring is truly astonishing,” Dr. Rachel A. Tuckman, lead author and a research associate at the Department of Molecular Psychiatry at UBC, said in a news release.
The researchers looked at the blood mercury levels in 8,096 women and their babies born between January 2010 and March 2011.
The data was collected from a sample of 2,828 children who were born in the U.S. between 2000 and 2005.
The babies in the study had autism and were tested at age six months.
The results showed a significant difference between children with autism and those with a normal IQ.
The study showed that mothers with higher blood mercury concentrations in their children had a 3.3 per cent higher risk for autism.
The lead author of the paper, Dr. J.M. Latham, said there is still much to be learned about autism and the possible connection to mercury in blood.
“We know there is mercury in some foods, particularly seafood, and it’s also a concern for pregnant women,” Dr Latham said.
“If mercury exposure is occurring at an early age in your baby, and that mercury is then associated with autism, then that is something that needs to be taken into account.”
The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.