Taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy can prevent the onset of autism spectrum disorder in children, a recent animal study showed. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia say that pregnant mice who are given active vitamin D treatment during their equivalent first trimester bear offspring that do not not exhibit autism-related behaviors.
The study used a widely accepted model of autism in mice, which lists symptoms such as abnormal behavior and basic learning and social interaction deficits.
The results demonstrate that vitamin D levels are a crucial factor in brain development, says lead researcher Professor Darryl Eyles.
“Recent funding will now allow us to determine how much cholecalciferol — the supplement form that is safe for pregnant women — is needed to achieve the same levels of active hormonal vitamin D in the bloodstream. This new information will allow us to further investigate the ideal dose and timing of vitamin D supplementation for pregnant women,” says researcher Dr. Wei Luan.
The results were published in the journal Molecular Autism.
Human studies show correlation between vitamin D levels, autism onset
Various human studies have previously established a link between vitamin D intake and the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children.
Autism experts at China’s First Hospital of Jilin University noted that a 32 month-old toddler with ASD who had daily oral intake and monthly injection of vitamin D3 showed a marked improvements in behavior. According to the researchers, the boy was more responsive, stopped banging his head, and running in circles at two months following the vitamin D intervention. However, the researchers cautioned that the single case study cannot be taken as a general representation for all autism patients. The results of the case study was published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.