Autism or Autistic spectrum disorder refers to lifelong developmental disabilities with primary symptoms being the difficulty or inability to communicate with strangers and interact socially.
University of Queensland researchers recently found a link between pregnant women with lower Vitamin D levels and increased inclinations of having a child having autistic traits. During their research they used a developmental model of autism to prove that Vitamin D plays a critical role in development of the brain in the offspring. While testing this theory on mice, they observed that the affected mice behaved abnormally and indicated inadequate social interaction, fundamental learning and stereotypical behaviour.
Their study has suggested that mommies-to-be should take Vitamin D supplements in their first trimester to prevent their child from developing autistic traits. Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining healthy bones. It is advised that pregnant women shouldn’t consume active hormonal form of Vitamin D because it may deteriorate development of stronger skeleton in the newborn. Sun exposure is the safe and best form of gaining Vitamin D. When UV rays hit the body, skin cells manufacture Vitamin D in response to the light. It is also available in certain food.
Dr Wei Luan, a postdoctoral researcher involved in the study, said vitamin D was crucial for maintaining healthy bones, but the active hormonal form of vitamin D cannot be given to pregnant women because it may affect the skeleton of the developing fetus.
Researchers say the study and the funding they have garnered recently will enable them to determine how much cholecalciferol is needed to achieve the same levels of active hormonal vitamin D in the bloodstream and the information they have garnered through their study will enable them to investigate the ideal dose and timing of vitamin D supplementation for pregnant women.