A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Summer, 2016 | Number 3, Volume 30

Pilot study: no link detected between mycotoxins, ASD

Exposure to mycotoxins, which are environmental contaminants produced by fungi, can cause developmental and neurological problems. However, a recent pilot study found no association between mycotoxin exposure and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 

Jennifer Duringer and colleagues compared 25 individuals with ASD (ranging in age from 5 to 20 years) to 29 controls, screening the participants for 87 urinary mycotoxins using mass spectrometry. In all, they detected four mycotoxins: zearalenone, zearalenone-4-glucoside, 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol, and altenuene. Nine study participants (17%) tested positive for one mycotoxin. “Each compound,” the researchers say, “was… generally evenly distributed between both the ASD and control groups.” This finding held true when they adjusted for several variables. 

While Duringer and her colleagues detected no association between mycotoxin exposure and ASD, they note that they measured only current mycotoxin levels. “Urinary sampling across multiple time points in the mother and children in the earlier years would provide a more thorough evaluation of mycotoxin exposure and possible association with ASD incidence,” they say.


“No association between mycotoxin exposure and autism: A pilot case-control study in school-aged children,” Jennifer Duringer, Eric Fombonne, and Morrie Craig, Toxins, July 20, 2016 (free online). Address: Eric Fombonne, Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Development & Disability, Oregon Health & Science University, 840 SW Gaines Street, Portland, OR 97239, fombonne@ohs u.edu.