Food and Behaviour Research

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Serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Wang T, Shan L, Du L, Feng J, Xu Z, Staal WG, Jia F. (2015) Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry.   2015 Oct 29. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here.


Vitamin D may play an important role in the etiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Vitamin D is regarded as a neuroactive steroid affecting brain development and function. It plays an essential role in myelination, which is important for connectivity in the brain.

Studies have shown that decreased vitamin D levels in patients, decreased maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy, and decreased exposure to solar UVB might increase the risk for ASD. In addition, autism symptoms and global functioning may improve after vitamin D supplementation.

Here, we sought to aggregate information from previous publications on vitamin D levels and ASD, in order to achieve a higher statistical power and thereby to determine the validity of vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for ASD.

For this meta-analysis, 11 studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, accounting for a total of 870 ASD patients and 782 healthy controls.

Levels of serum 25(OH) D in participants with ASD were significantly lower than controls, suggesting that lower vitamin D level might be a risk factor for ASD.


The idea that Vitamin D deficiency may play some role in the development of autism is supported by increasing experimental evidence, to which the current study adds, as well as having plausible theoretical mechanisms - see for example
What still remains to be established is whether increasing Vitamin D intakes may help, for which clinical trials are urgently needed.