Low Vitamin D Levels at Birth Linked to Higher Autism Risk

HOBOKEN, NJ -- November 30, 2017 -- Low vitamin D levels at birth were associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the age of 3 years, according to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Previous studies have suggested that lower vitamin D might be a risk factor for autism.

Yuan-Lin Zheng, MD, School of Life Science, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou, China, and colleagues wanted to estimate the prevalence of ASD in 3 children and to examine the association between neonatal vitamin D status and risk of autism.

The researchers conducted a study of live births who had taken part in expanded newborn screening, with outpatient follow-up when the children were aged 3 years. The children were diagnosed with ASD based on Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5 criteria.

The concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in children with ASD and controls were assessed from neonatal dried blood samples.

Of the 27,940 newborns, 310 were diagnosed with ASD at age 3 years, with a prevalence of 1.11%.

When the 310 children with ASD were compared with 1,240 control subjects, the risk of ASD was significantly increased in each of the three lower quartiles of vitamin D level at birth, when compared with the highest quartile: an increased risk of ASD by 260% in the lowest quartile, 150% in the second quartile, and 90% in the third quartile.

“Neonatal vitamin D status was significantly associated with the risk of ASD and intellectual disability,” said Dr. Zheng.

Reference: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.3326

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