The Role of Heavy Metal Pollution in Neurobehavioral Disorders: a Focus on Autism

Francesca Gorini, Filippo Muratori, Maria Aurora Morales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An increasing evidence supports the role of industrial chemicals as contributors to the development of neurobehavioral disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, whose prevalence has progressively increased in recent years. Heavy metals, in particular, are recognized as neurodevelopmental toxins since they can be responsible of fetal damages which lead to neurological defects, developmental delays, learning disabilities and behavioral abnormalities. Most of the reviewed studies reported a relationship between exposure to metals during perinatal and early childhood periods and increased risk for autism. Moreover, the effects resulting from co-exposure to multiple metals should not be underestimated, especially in the assessment of children who live in developing countries or near heavily contaminated sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-372
Number of pages19
JournalReview Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014


  • ASD
  • Heavy metals
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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