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Autism 4 times more likely if low vitamin D during first trimester – Oct 2016

Lower maternal serum 25(OH) D in first trimester associated with higher autism risk in Chinese offspring

Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 89, October 2016, Pages 98–101, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2016.08.013
Jianzhang Chen a, b, chanjz at 126.com, Kuolin Xin b, Junjie Wei c, Kangli Zhang b, , , Huajun Xiao d


  • Vitamin D deficiency was hypothesized to play role in ASD.
  • Maternal 25(OH) D in autistic group lower than in typically-developing group
  • Maternal 25(OH) D concentrations were associated with risk of developing autism.
  • This is an opportunity for prenatal intervention to reduce the risk for autism.

The aim of this study was to examine the association between maternal serum vitamin D status in first trimester and risk of ASD at age 3–7 years in the offspring.

Using a case-control design, 68 children diagnosed with ASD and 68 sex and age matched typically-developing children were included. Archived maternal blood samples from the first trimester of pregnancy (11–13 weeks gestational age) were identified for those participants. Maternal serum levels of 25 hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH) D], unmetabolized folic acid (FA), vitamin B12, homocysteine (HCY) and High Sensitivity C Reactive protein (CRP) were measured from those samples. We examined the associations between those factors in pregnancy and diagnosis of ASD with logistic regression using SPSS.

Mothers in autistic group had significantly lower maternal serum levels of 25(OH) D than in typically-developing group [19.2(IQR: 15.8–22.9) ng/ml vs. 24.3 (19.3–27.3) ng/ml, P < 0.001], with 55.9% and 29.4% being vitamin D deficient, respectively (P < 0.001). Levels of 25(OH) D increased with decreasing severity of ASD as defined by the CARS score (r = - 0.302, P < 0.001). Maternal first trimester serum levels of 25(OH) D in the lower 3 quartiles (quartile 1, 2, 3) (compared to the highest quartile) was associated with increased odds of ASD diagnosis in offspring [OR (95% CI) Q1: 1.36(0.84–2.58, P = 0.25); Q2: 2.68(1.44–4.29, P = 0.006); Q3:3.99 (2.58–7.12, P < 0.001)].

Lower first trimester maternal serum levels of 25(OH) D were associated with increased risk of developing autism in offspring. If these findings are confirmed, this may present an opportunity for prenatal intervention to reduce the risk for ASD.

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  1. Both have strong inheritance features – Vitamin D about 60%
  2. Both have gotten substantially worse in last 30 years
  3. Vitamin D is known to be involved in brain development
  4. All autistic children are VitD deficient, but not all children who are deficient are autistic: genes are involved
  5. When giving vitamin D to cure children of rickets “mental dullness” decreases as well
  6. Children with genes which give them too much (Williams Syndrome) have to reverse of autism – too sociable
  7. Mothers having lots of fish (and thus more vitamin D) give birth to kids with less autistic symptoms
  8. Both associated with weak bones
  9. Both worse around the age of weaning
  10. Autism is more common in rich families – more likely to apply sun screen and stay indoors
  11. Autism increases with drugs which lower levels of vitamin D
  12. Seizures are common with Autism - Vitamin D has been shown to reduce seizures
  13. Fewer autistic symptoms (such as sleep problems) during summer: when child gets more vitamin D from the sun
  14. Both worse with latitude
  15. Both vary with Ultraviolet light
  16. Both vary with time of year (more birth of autistics in March in Northern hemisphere)
  17. 2X more urban autism – less UVB in urban environments
  18. Both worse with pollution
  19. Both worse with increased clouds and rain
  20. Both worse with closely spaced pregnancies
  21. Autistics have abnormal immune response – similar to that of vitamin D deficiency
  22. Low levels of vitamin D in mother animals reduces brain function in offspring
  23. Vitamin deficient rat pups have similar brain abnormalities to that of human autistic children
  24. Autistic children get less vitamin D in their blood for the same amount of sun exposure
  25. The 4 males/1 female ratio - Note estrogen increases vitamin D in the brain (testosterone does not)
  26. Both worse in African Americans (A-A 2-3 increased autism rate)
  27. Both worse in Dark-skinned immigrants in Europe

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