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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Autism in children linked to lack of vitamin D in expectant women

An expectant woman awaits delivery at Mombasa Hospital./FILE
An expectant woman awaits delivery at Mombasa Hospital./FILE

Expectant women who lack vitamin D while pregnant are more likely to have autistic children.

A study conducted by researchers at Queensland Brain Institute, shows that there is a link between vitamin D deficiencies in expectant women.

The researchers who analysed the blood of pregnant women and their offspring found those with vitamin D deficiencies scored “significantly higher” on the autism scale than those whose vitamin D levels were regular.

Lead researcher Professor John McGrath said increasing vitamin D levels in expectant women could reduce the incidence of autism.

“Just as taking folate in pregnancy has reduced the incidence of spina bifida, the result of this study suggests that prenatal vitamin D supplements may reduce the incidence of autism,” he said.

Vitamin D is vital for maintaining healthy bones; there is now a solid body of evidence that links it to brain growth.

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurobehavioural condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors experienced by the autistic person.

The study examined approximately 4,200 blood samples from pregnant women and their children, who were closely monitored as part of the long-term “Generation R” study in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

“This research could have important implications from a public health perspective,” Professor McGrath said.

“We would not recommend more sun exposure, because of the increased risk of skin cancer in countries like Australia. Instead, it’s feasible that a safe, inexpensive, and publicly accessible vitamin D supplement in at-risk groups may reduce the prevalence of this risk factor.” He added.

The study was published which was published in Molecular Psychiatry was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Read: Autism: Don't try to cure us, just understand us

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