Epidemiologic evidence supporting the role of maternal vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for the development of infantile autism

Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Jul;1(4):223-8. doi: 10.4161/derm.1.4.9500.

Abstract

This study examines whether maternal vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for infantile autism disease (IAD). We used epidemiologic data seasonal variation of birth rates and prevalence of IAD for cohorts born before 1985. For seven studies reporting spring-to-summer excess birth rates for IAD, the season progressed from broad near 30 degrees N latitude, spring/summer in midlatitudes, to winter at the highest latitude. Also, using data from 10 studies, we found a strong effective latitudinal (related to wintertime solar ultraviolet B radiation) increase in IAD prevalence. These findings are consistent with maternal vitamin D deficiency's being a risk factor for IAD, possibly by affecting fetal brain development as well as possibly by affecting maternal immune system status during pregnancy. Further investigation of this hypothesis is warranted.

Keywords: autism; cathelicidin; ecological; maternal; season of birth; ultraviolet-B; viral infections; vitamin D.