Vitamin D Supplements May Benefit Children With Autism

HOBOKEN, NJ -- November 22, 2016 -- Vitamin D supplementation improved symptoms of autism, according to a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Although pharmacological therapies provide an adjunct to behavioural therapy for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they have no significant effects on improving the core symptoms of autism.

Vitamin D has an important role in brain homeostasis, neurodevelopment, and aging, and it plays a significant role in gene regulation. It has also been suggested that vitamin D acts as a neuroactive steroid, affecting neuronal differentiation, axonal connectivity, and brain structure and function.

For the current double-blinded, randomised study, 190 children aged 3 to 10 years with ASD (85 boys and 24 girls) were randomised to receive vitamin D3 (300 IU kg/day, not to exceed 5,000 IU/day) or placebo for 4 months. Serum levels of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25[OH]D) were measured at the beginning and at the end of the study.

The autism severity and social maturity of the children were assessed by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), and the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC).

Supplementation of vitamin D was well tolerated by the children. Symptoms of autism improved significantly following 4 month of vitamin D supplementation.

“Autism symptoms -- such as hyperactivity, social withdrawal, and others -- improved significantly following vitamin D supplementation but not after receiving placebo,” said lead author Khaled Saad, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt.

Depending on the parameters measured in the study, oral vitamin D supplementation may safely improve signs and symptoms of ASD and could be recommended for children with ASD.

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