Zinc to Copper Ratios in Children with Autism | Second Opinion Physician

Zinc to Copper Ratios in Children with Autism

treat zinc copper imbalance autism spectrum

Research and physician training protocols developed by Dr Walsh of the Walsh Research Institute for identifying mood disorders is focused on managing young teens and adults. Most physicians trained in the Walsh Protocol themselves treat adults only and not so much of the pediatric population. As a general practitioner, managing biochemical disorders and depression in all ages, I came across the below study published in 2017. This establishes that the same markers Walsh refers in assessing one of the major Biotypes in adult depression, is also confirmed to be useful in addressing symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Zinc, copper and ceruloplasmin are minerals and mineral chelators that are tested in the Walsh approach determine whether or not the Biotype of Copper Overload is contributing to the mood or behavior disorder being evaluated. Symptoms of this biotype imblance may include anxiety, irritability, depression and psychosis. In mothers who recently delivered a child, copper overload is very commonly the cause of PPD post partum depression.

In his research there is a high correlation incidence of these symptoms of the labs when zinc/copper ratio diverges from the optimal of 1.2:1. For instance, a good range for normal would be 110 of zinc and 90 of copper. If however, the ratio is reversed and copper is elevated to 110 or more and zinc is below 90 there is a liklihood that this degree of copper overload, or oxidative stress is contributing to the patients experience of depression and anxiety.

Walsh has also found this to be the case with Autistic children. In order to apply these ratios to toddlers, and establish suitable supplement dosages this study confirmed the association between these minerals and in fact, found that the 1.2/1 zinc/copper ratio to be an excellent biomarker for children with Autism Disorder AD.

In testing toddlers, it is possible to order to draw very small amounts of blood to determine these lab values. Ideally we take plasma zinc and serum copper to determine the optimal nutrient balance. This is a highly useful test and when addressing the imbalance, only small dosages of zinc and antioxidants are necessary to correct the imbalance. When these out of balance minerals are corrected, many of the behavioral disorders can be dramatically improved, giving the child and family a great deal of relief and promise for a healthy and happy childhood.

The plasma zinc/serum copper ratio as a biomarker in children with autism spectrum disorders.

El-Meshad GM, Abd El-Nabi SA, Moharam NM, Abou El-Khair MS. The plasma zinc/serum copper ratio as a biomarker in children with autism spectrum disorders. Menoufia Med J 2017;30:727-33

Link to the study may be found here


The aim of this study was to assess the plasma zinc (Zn)/serum copper (Cu) ratio as a biomarker in children with autism spectrum.

Autism is a complex, behaviorally defined neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant impairments in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotypic patterns of behavior. The possible etiologies that precipitate autism symptoms remain controversial in many cases, but both genetic and environmental factors have been implicated. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to be at risk for Zn deficiency, Cu toxicity, and often have low Zn/Cu ratio.

Plasma Zn was decreased in patients than in controls. Serum Cu was higher in patients than in controls. Lower Zn/Cu ratio was observed in cases in comparison with controls. intelligence quotient was lower in patients than in controls. There was a correlation between age and Zn/Cu ratio, but there was no correlation between Zn/Cu ratio and BMI. There was a negative correlation between Childhood Autism Rating Scales and Zn/Cu ratio. Zn/Cu correlated negatively with some selected symptom severity in autistic children and Zn/Cu ratio.

Our results suggested an association between blood levels of Zn and Cu with ASD among our patients, and the Zn/Cu ratio could be considered a biomarker of ASD.

In 85% of our patients the condition presented with delayed speech, in 90% with stereotyped behavior, in 90% with loss of eye contact, and in 95% with delayed motor development. Noens et al. [20] reported that about a third to a half of individuals with autism do not develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs. In our patients, 95% had delay in motor development. This is in accordance with the findings of Esposito and Venuti [21], who said that ASD patients showed a range of gross motor problems, including delays in motor milestones, abnormal muscle tone, abnormal reflexes, and postural asymmetries.

Cu is a trace element present in all tissues and is required for cellular respiration, peptide amidation, neurotransmitter biosynthesis, pigment formation, and connective tissue strength, and is a cofactor for numerous enzymes and plays an important role in central nervous system development. Cu toxicity has a powerful effect on the mind. Depending on the severity of the toxicity and the susceptibility of the person, Cu at toxic levels can affect the mind moderately or very severely [7].

In the current study, serum Cu was statistically higher in patients than in controls (P = 0.001) as the mean Cu level of children with autism was 151.6 ± 54.6 μg/dl compared with 105.4 ± 16.1 μg/dl in controls. This is in agreement with a study by Russo and deVito [25], who stated that autistic children have significantly elevated plasma levels of Cu (P = 0.0133).

In the current study, the plasma Zn/serum Cu ratio was statistically lower in patients than in controls (P < 0.001) as the mean Zn/Cu level was 0.62 ± 0.2, which was below the 0.81 cutoff of the lowest 2.5% of healthy children. Similarly, another study was carried out by Faber et al[4], who found that the mean Zn/Cu was 0.608, which was below the 0.7 cutoff of the lowest 2.5% of healthy children.

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