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October 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 8)

Autism more common in autumn babies—and mothers’ vit D levels could be to blame
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Autism more common in autumn babies—and mothers’ vit D levels could be to blame image

Autumn babies are more likely to suffer from learning difficulties. This is probably because their mothers’ levels of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’, were at their lowest when they were conceived, researchers believe.

There would be around 11 per cent fewer cases of autism, dyslexia and other learning problems if mothers’ levels of vitamin D were higher, reckon researchers from the University of Glasgow.

In an analysis of more than 800,000 children at Scottish schools, the researchers discovered that 8.9 per cent of children conceived between January and March—when vitamin D levels are probably at their lowest—had learning difficulties compared to 7.6 per cent of children conceived in different times of the year.

Although the researchers can’t be sure, they think that vitamin D levels of the mothers are the most plausible explanation, especially as the first three months after conception are vital for brain development—and other studies have shown just how important the vitamin is in this process.

Since the children were born, public health policy has changed and now advises all pregnant women to take vitamin D supplements.


References

(Source: American Journal of Epidemiology, 2016; published ahead of print, August 23rd)

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