The Association between Vitamin D Status and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2020 Dec 29;13(1):86. doi: 10.3390/nu13010086.


The association between vitamin D status and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is well-investigated but remains to be elucidated. We quantitatively combined relevant studies to estimate whether vitamin D status was related to ASD in this work. PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library were searched to include eligible studies. A random-effects model was applied to pool overall estimates of vitamin D concentration or odds ratio (OR) for ASD. In total, 34 publications involving 20,580 participants were identified in this present study. Meta-analysis of 24 case-control studies demonstrated that children and adolescents with ASD had significantly lower vitamin D concentration than that of the control group (mean difference (MD): -7.46 ng/mL, 95% confidence interval (CI): -10.26; -4.66 ng/mL, p < 0.0001, I2 = 98%). Quantitative integration of 10 case-control studies reporting OR revealed that lower vitamin D was associated with higher risk of ASD (OR: 5.23, 95% CI: 3.13; 8.73, p < 0.0001, I2 = 78.2%). Analysis of 15 case-control studies barring data from previous meta-analysis reached a similar result with that of the meta-analysis of 24 case-control studies (MD: -6.2, 95% CI: -9.62; -2.78, p = 0.0004, I2 = 96.8%), which confirmed the association. Furthermore, meta-analysis of maternal and neonatal vitamin D showed a trend of decreased early-life vitamin D concentration in the ASD group (MD: -3.15, 95% CI: -6.57; 0.26, p = 0.07, I2 = 99%). Meta-analysis of prospective studies suggested that children with reduced maternal or neonatal vitamin D had 54% higher likelihood of developing ASD (OR: 1.54, 95% CI: 1.12; 2.10, p = 0.0071, I2 = 81.2%). These analyses indicated that vitamin D status was related to the risk of ASD. The detection and appropriate intervention of vitamin D deficiency in ASD patients and pregnant and lactating women have clinical and public significance.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; maternal and neonatal vitamin D; meta-analysis; systematic review; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D*


  • Vitamin D