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No Association between Mycotoxin Exposure and Autism: A Pilot Case-Control Study in School-Aged Children

Department of Environmental & Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University, 139 Oak Creek Building, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Development & Disability, Oregon Health & Science University, 840 SW Gaines St., Portland, OR 97239, USA
College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, 105 Magruder Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: James J. Pestka
Toxins 2016, 8(7), 224;
Received: 22 May 2016 / Revised: 6 July 2016 / Accepted: 8 July 2016 / Published: 20 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
PDF [251 KB, uploaded 20 July 2016]


Evaluation of environmental risk factors in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is needed for a more complete understanding of disease etiology and best approaches for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. A pilot experiment in 54 children (n = 25 ASD, n = 29 controls; aged 12.4 ± 3.9 years) screened for 87 urinary mycotoxins via liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to assess current exposure. Zearalenone, zearalenone-4-glucoside, 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol, and altenuene were detected in 9/54 (20%) samples, most near the limit of detection. No mycotoxin/group of mycotoxins was associated with ASD-diagnosed children. To identify potential correlates of mycotoxin presence in urine, we further compared the nine subjects where a urinary mycotoxin was confirmed to the remaining 45 participants and found no difference based on the presence or absence of mycotoxin for age (t-test; p = 0.322), gender (Fisher’s exact test; p = 0.456), exposure or not to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Fisher’s exact test; p = 0.367), or to other medications (Fisher’s exact test; p = 1.00). While no positive association was found, more sophisticated sample preparation techniques and instrumentation, coupled with selectivity for a smaller group of mycotoxins, could improve sensitivity and detection. Further, broadening sampling to in utero (mothers) and newborn-toddler years would cover additional exposure windows. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism; mycotoxins; environmental; urine autism; mycotoxins; environmental; urine
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Duringer, J.; Fombonne, E.; Craig, M. No Association between Mycotoxin Exposure and Autism: A Pilot Case-Control Study in School-Aged Children. Toxins 2016, 8, 224.

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