London - Children who are low in zinc may be at higher risk of autism.
A study found that large numbers of children with autism and related conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome were deficient in the mineral, which is found in meat, bread and dairy products.
The researchers said their finding provided hope for the treatment and prevention of autism.
But British experts say it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions from the study - and people should not rush out to stock up on zinc supplements.
Autism and related conditions affect more than one in 100 British children - ten times more than just 30 years ago - but the condition is still little understood.