Low vitamin D status in early development has been hypothesised as an environmental risk factor for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), given the concurrent increase in the prevalence of these two conditions, and the association of vitamin D with many ASD-associated medical conditions. Identification of vitamin D-ASD factors may provide indications for primary and secondary prevention interventions.
We systematically reviewed the literature for studies on vitamin D-ASD relationship, including potential mechanistic pathways. We identified seven specific areas, including: latitude, season of conception/birth, maternal migration/ethnicity, vitamin D status of mothers and ASD patients, and vitamin D intervention to prevent and treat ASD.
Due to differences in the methodological procedures and inconsistent results, drawing conclusions from the first three areas is difficult. Using a more direct measure of vitamin D status-that is, serum 25(OH)D level during pregnancy or childhood-we found growing evidence for a relationship between vitamin D and ASD.
These findings are supported by convincing evidence from experimental studies investigating the mechanistic pathways. However, with few primary and secondary prevention intervention trials, this relationship cannot be determined, unless randomised placebo-controlled trials of vitamin D as a preventive or disease-modifying measure in ASD patients are available.
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