In the past few months, I have seen this question come up again: “What role do vitamins and other supplements play in ASD?” Most recently, the spotlight has been on Vitamin D.
The first article I read about was reviewing a small Swedish study which revealed that children with ASD had extremely low vitamin D levels at birth. Their siblings, who developed typically, had much higher levels of vitamin D. This brings about the question as to whether low blood levels of vitamin D predispose children to greater risk of autism, and if taking a prenatal vitamin D supplement could reduce this risk.
Included in the study were a number of Somali-immigrant families. Interestingly, doctors touched on the unusually high rates of autism in this population in recent years, and cited low vitamin D absorption capability as one possible factor.
A second article I reviewed looked at vitamin D’s influence from another angle. In a Chinese study, a toddler with ASD was treated with very high doses of vitamin D. The doctors noted that the toddler had borderline low blood levels of vitamin D when the study began, but after only two months he showed “dramatic improvements” in his symptoms and behaviors. Before getting too excited about these results, however, the doctors cautioned:
“It is important to note that this single case observation cannot be generalized to all patients with ASD. It is hoped that this case report will encourage researchers to conduct further long-term controlled clinical trials.”
Similar to how I felt when I reviewed the impact of Folic Acid with ASD, I am somewhat excited when considering the potential that natural preventative measures and treatments might have. However, it is important to remember that generalizations are hard to make when discussing autism. As they say, “If you’ve met one child with autism, then you’ve met one child with autism.” Still, I will continue to look for future studies to be released on not only vitamin D, but for other supplements as well.