Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to autism after a recent study found that pregnant women with low vitamin D levels are more likely to give birth to babies with autistic traits.
The study suggests that women with a vitamin D deficiency, who are at least 20 weeks pregnant, could have a child that would show signs of autism by age 6, The Guardian noted.
The study was based on blood samples from more than 4,000 women and their children, according to the Daily Mail.
“This study provides further evidence that low vitamin D is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders,” said John McGrath, a professor at the University of Queensland’s Brain Institute, who led the research with Dr. Henning Tiemeier from the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands, the Guardian noted.
McGrath said taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy could reduce the percentage of children born with autism, the Daily Mail noted.
Maintaining normal levels of vitamin D keeps your bones healthy, and the study shows that it also leads to brain growth, the New York Post noted.
Vitamin D is widely known to come from having exposure to the sun, but considering that it also comes from foods and supplements, researchers are suggesting that pregnant women steer clear of gaining too much sun exposure.
McGrath makes it clear that pregnant women shouldn’t rely on more expose to the sun to raise their vitamin D levels because of “the increased risk of skin cancer in countries like Australia,” the Daily Mail noted.
“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,” McGrath said.
Some said the research should to be dealt with carefully.
“Autism is linked to dozens if not hundreds of different mechanisms which lead to this condition,” said Andrew Whitehouse, a professor at the Telethon Kids Institute, the Post noted.
“This study gives us an inkling of one of these possible mechanisms but I think before we think about anything else, and that includes treatment studies, we need to see this finding replicated,” he said.
“We know that genetic factors play a major role in the developmental pathways that may lead to autism,” he added.
Those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder have challenges with communication and social interaction.
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