Food and Behaviour Research

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Core symptoms of autism improved after vitamin D supplementation

Jia F, Wang B, Shan L, Xu Z, Staal WG, Du L. (2015) Pediatrics 135(1) e196-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-2121. Epub 2014 Dec 15. 

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

Abstract:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a complex interaction between genetic and environmental risk factors.

Among the environmental factors, vitamin D3 (cholecaliferol) seems to play a significant role in the etiology of ASD because this vitamin is important for brain development. Lower concentrations of vitamin D3 may lead to increased brain size, altered brain shape, and enlarged ventricles, which have been observed in patients with ASD. Vitamin D3 is converted into 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in the liver. Higher serum concentrations of this steroid may reduce the risk of autism.

Importantly, children with ASD are at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, possibly due to environmental factors. It has also been suggested that vitamin D3 deficiency may cause ASD symptoms.

Here, we report on a 32-month-old boy with ASD andvitamin D3 deficiency. His core symptoms of autism improved significantly after vitamin D3 supplementation.

This case suggests that vitamin D3 may play an important role in the etiology of ASD, stressing the importance of clinical assessment of vitamin D3 deficiency and the need for vitamin D3 supplementation in case of deficiency.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

Evidence has been mounting for many years that deficiency of Vitamin D in early life may play a role in autism and related developmental disorders.  See:
Much of the evidence indicates that brain development is adversely affected by maternal Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy.

What has been lacking is any evidence that supplementation with Vitamin D during infancy or childhood may be helpful - and this single case study is therefore extremely promising.

In view of the dramatic increase in autism in recent decades, full-scale treatment trials to investigate the potential benefits are urgently needed.