Heavy metals and seizures in children with Kanner's syndrome

Michael Bartlett

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on July 04th, 2022

Children with Kanner's syndrome, also known as classic autistic disorder, are more likely to experience seizures than those who do not have such a neurodevelopmental disorder. Between 5% and 38% of children on the autism spectrum develop epilepsy. However, their seizures are not always the result of epilepsy - they can be non-epileptic.

As a neurological disorder, epilepsy affects roughly 470,000 children in the United States, many of whom struggle with Kanner's syndrome. The disorder causes seizures, which are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that affect how it works temporarily. While epilepsy usually starts in childhood, 20% to 30% of children on the autism spectrum develop the disorder by adulthood.

A major contributing factor to Kanner's syndrome is heavy metals, some of the most dangerous being arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. However, the presence of heavy metals such as nickel and aluminum in the body can also trigger autism in children. While combustion processes like power generation, smelting, and incineration are some of the most important sources of heavy metals, baby food is another major source of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. At least seven popular baby food manufacturers were found guilty of allowing unsettling concentrations of heavy metals in their products by a 2021 congressional report.

The greater the amount of heavy metals in the blood of a child, the higher their chance of developing Kanner's syndrome is. These are the reference values for the most dangerous heavy metals in the blood:

  • arsenic: 50 micrograms per liter
  • cadmium: 0.4 micrograms per liter
  • lead: 0.5 micrograms per liter
  • mercury: 20 micrograms per liter
  • aluminum: 3 micrograms per liter
  • nickel: 0.2 micrograms per liter

Even without a diagnosis of Kanner's syndrome, children who have a great level of heavy metals in their blood may experience seizures as a consequence of overexposure to these naturally occurring but hazardous elements. In some cases, seizures are one of the early signs of Kanner's syndrome, along with hypersensitivity to stimuli, failing to make good eye contact, displaying unusual body movements, and showing low enthusiasm to explore new things.

Seizures in children with Kanner's syndrome

Seizures are quite common among children within the autism spectrum, and they are often the result of epilepsy. Nevertheless, a child with Kanner's syndrome can experience frequent seizures without having epilepsy. In this case, they are called non-epileptic seizures. Seizures are a significant concern in children suffering from autism spectrum disorders because of their high prevalence and link to increased mortality. To make matters more difficult, numerous symptoms of seizures resemble the symptoms of Kanner's syndrome, which makes it difficult to differentiate between the two.

The most common signs of seizures in children with Kanner's syndrome include loss of focus, staring, disrupted sleep, confusion, disorientation, involuntary body movements, and unusual sensations. Still, it is extremely important to keep in mind that the symptoms of seizures vary widely, and some occur with no visible signs.

Lastly, it is essential to know that there are two types of seizures children with Kanner's syndrome may experience, namely:

  • Generalized seizures: They affect both sides of the brain and can be either absence seizures or tonic-clonic seizures. While the former cause the child to blink rapidly, lose focus for several seconds, or stare out into space, the latter are the most severe, as the entire brain displays abnormal electrical activity. Tonic-clonic seizures cause the entire body to shake rhythmically, and the child experiences loss of consciousness. Most of these episodes last less than 5 minutes, but they can be dangerous if they continue for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Focal seizures: Also known as partial seizures, these affect only a part of the brain. They are usually very subtle, with the person having only a staring episode or no visible signs indicating that a seizure is happening. In some cases, focal seizures can cause one part of the body, such as a leg or arm, to move rhythmically. A seizure can begin as a focal seizure and progress to a generalized seizure, affecting both sides of the brain.

It is worthy of note that specific categories of children within the autism spectrum have a higher risk of developing seizures and epilepsy. They include those with intellectual disabilities, genetic abnormalities, and brain malformations.

The link between exposure to heavy metals and seizures in children on the autism spectrum

Lead and mercury are the heavy metals that are most likely to cause seizures, whether the child is on the autism spectrum or not, as they are very harmful and powerful. Because heavy metals are neurotoxic, meaning that they can wreak havoc on the brain and nervous system, it should not be surprising that overexposure can result in epilepsy or non-epileptic seizures in children. By altering the balance of inhibition and excitation in the nervous system, heavy metals can lead to epilepsy or frequent seizures in children with Kanner's syndrome.

It is noteworthy that seizures caused by exposure to heavy metals do not cause Kanner's syndrome per se. The contributing factor to the disorder is the very presence of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, aluminum, or nickel in the blood of the child. If a child experiences seizures during infanthood, they can be the result of overexposure to heavy metals alone or Kanner's syndrome, whose development was fueled by the heavy metals in their body. Approximately one-third of children on the autism spectrum have epilepsy.

Our attorneys will gladly help you recover compensation if your child developed Kanner's syndrome

As a result of having been fed baby food with tremendous concentrations of heavy metals, numerous children are now on the autism spectrum. If your toddler has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner's syndrome, or pervasive developmental disorder, we strongly encourage you to contact our specialized attorneys.

They will gladly assist you with recovering financial compensation from the liable baby food manufacturers on behalf of your child.

You will only have to gather proof of having given your baby food from one or more companies whose products were found to contain heavy metals and evidence of their diagnosis. After our attorneys gather everything they need from you, you can carry on as usual with your life and focus on caring for your child, as we are aware that children with a form of autism usually require special care. Eventually, you will receive the maximum compensation you are eligible for from the culpable baby food manufacturers.