How do a mother's copper and zinc levels affect a developing fetus?

Wilson's Disease patients have low blood copper levels and high urine copper levels, and they also have low zinc levels. This study found that "lower levels of maternal blood copper were significantly associated with higher cadmium concentrations in cord blood. Placental cadmium in women with lower levels of maternal blood zinc was significantly higher than in those with normal zinc levels. " [1]

So a child whose mother has a high copper to zinc ratio would be exposed to higher levels of cadmium prenatally. Increased cadmium is NOT a good thing, that's for sure. "Cadmium has no constructive purpose in the human body. It, and its compounds, are extremely toxic even in low concentrations, and will bioaccumulate in organisms and ecosystems." [2]

Because 1 out of 100 people are heterozygous carriers of Wilson's disease, AND because a high copper to zinc ratio in pregancy is dangerous, regular monitoring of prenatal uremic copper and zinc levels may be warranted. (Copper levels that are too low are dangerous too, so always consult with your doctor before making any health decision.)

This study hypothesized that mothers who are heterozygous carriers of Wilson's disease could have high Cu:Zn ratios while pregnant which could result in autism or schizophrenia of the child later in life: "Therefore, the developing fetus of a pregnant women who is low in Zn and high in Cu may experience major difficulties in the early development of the brain, which may later manifest themselves as schizophrenia, autism or epilepsy. Similarly, a person who gradually accumulates Cu, will tend to experience a gradual depletion of Zn, with a corresponding increase in oxidative damage," [3]

However, I suspect it's more likely that an elevated maternal Cu:Zn ratio could help to explain the cases of classic autism, and that regressive autism could occur in children who have an impaired metal efflux ability. Children who accumulate toxic metals from vaccines and pollution and who have depleted zinc levels would quite conceivably suffer from oxidative damage.

An elevated maternal Cu:Zn ratio could possibly explain the cases of classic autism (where the symptoms were present at birth) because the baby would have had high prenatal exposure to neurotoxic metals. This group of children may or may not inherit this gene from their mothers if the mother only has one copy of the gene that causes Wilson's Disease.


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