Could Vitamin D Deficiency Contribute to Autism?

Published: October 26, 2012

This report concludes that "widespread gestational (during pregnancy) and/or early childhood vitamin D deficiency may explain both the genetics and epidemiology of autism. If so, much of the disease is iatrogenic (medically caused), brought on by medical advice to avoid the sun." This is simply one of many contributing factors for autism, but again supports the need for nutritional support (under the guidance of a Holistic practitioner) for these children. The DAN ("Defeat Autism Now!") organization has many practitioners among its members.

In addition, a study funded by our foundation showed that a simple acupressure technique called NAET (see for a practitioner near you) resulted in 23 of the 30 children being back in regular schools after 1 year of therapy (vs. 0/30 in the unaddressed control group). These very simple therapies (most practitioners do it without needles) are powerfully effective at eliminating allergies and sensitivities, but you'll need to do it once a week for 1 year. We funded the study after 1 little girl went from being nonverbal to chattering like, well, a schoolgirl, after her NAET (in her case she turned out to be sensitive to phenols—but most children have multiple sensitivities that need therapy). I became interested in NAET after a single 20 minute therapy eliminated my lifelong hay fever (ragweed allergies).

Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(4):750-9. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

Autism and Vitamin D

Cannell JJ.

Atascadero State Hospital, Psychiatry, 10333 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93423, United States.

Any theory of autism's etiology must take into account its strong genetic basis while explaining its striking epidemiology. The apparent increase in the prevalence of autism over the last 20 years corresponds with increasing medical advice to avoid the sun, advice that has probably lowered vitamin D levels and would theoretically greatly lower activated vitamin D (calcitriol) levels in developing brains. Animal data has repeatedly shown that severe vitamin D deficiency during gestation dysregulates dozens of proteins involved in brain development and leads to rat pups with increased brain size and enlarged ventricles, abnormalities similar to those found in autistic children. Children with the Williams Syndrome, who can have greatly elevated calcitriol levels in early infancy, usually have phenotypes that are the opposite of autism. Children with vitamin D deficient rickets have several autistic markers that apparently disappear with high-dose vitamin D therapy. Estrogen and testosterone have very different effects on calcitriol's metabolism, differences that may explain the striking male/female sex ratios in autism. Calcitriol down-regulates production of inflammatory cytokines in the brain, cytokines that have been associated with autism. Consumption of vitamin D containing fish during pregnancy reduces autistic symptoms in offspring. Autism is more common in areas of impaired UVB penetration such as poleward latitudes, urban areas, areas with high air pollution, and areas of high precipitation. Autism is more common in dark-skinned persons and severe maternal vitamin D deficiency is exceptionally common in those that are dark-skinned.

Conclusion: Simple Gaussian distributions of the enzyme that activates neural calcitriol combined with widespread gestational and/or early childhood vitamin D deficiency may explain both the genetics and epidemiology of autism. If so, much of the disease is iatrogenic, brought on by medical advice to avoid the sun. Several types of studies could easily test the theory.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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