(WXYZ) - Researchers are taking a new approach in research aimed at finding the cause of autism.
They call it the "Tooth Fairy Study."
Researchers have been collecting donated baby teeth from kids who have autism and kids who do not.
Researchers grind up the teeth, convert the powder into a liquid and then make it into a gas.
The gas is then run through a device which can detect compounds inside the teeth. The machine can find particles like pesticide, plastics and medicine.
The entire process is called spectrometry.
"It's been done by looking at blood or hair analysis, but that's only a snapshot in time of recent exposure," said Dr. Ray Palmer, a researcher at the University Of Texas Health Science Center. "It doesn't provide a historical record of exposure like the teeth do. So, when the teeth are forming, that's a record of what you've been exposed to in utero."
Researchers are hoping to find out whether a link exists between environmental factors and autism.
Approximate 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism.
"This is one of the most severe epidemics affecting children. It's really a wide open field and it's way overdue," Dr. Palmer said.
The "Tooth Fairy Study" is funded in part by a $100,000 donation from the organization "Autism Speaks."
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