There is intense interest in identifying modifiable risk factors associated with autism-spectrum disorders (ASD). Autism-related traits, which can be assessed in a continuous fashion, share risk factors with ASD, and thus can serve as informative phenotypes in population-based cohort studies. Based on the growing body of research linking gestational vitamin D deficiency with altered brain development, this common exposure is a candidate modifiable risk factor for ASD and autism-related traits. The association between gestational vitamin D deficiency and a continuous measure of autism-related traits at ~ 6 years (Social Responsiveness Scale; SRS) was determined in a large population-based cohort of mothers and their children (n = 4229). 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) was assessed from maternal mid-gestation sera and from neonatal sera (collected from cord blood). Vitamin D deficiency was defined as 25OHD concentrations less than 25 nmol l − 1. Compared with the 25OHD sufficient group (25OHD450 nmol l − 1), those who were 25OHD deficient had significantly higher (more abnormal) SRS scores (mid-gestation n = 2866, β = 0.06, Po0.001; cord blood n = 1712, β = 0.03, P = 0.01). The findings persisted (a) when we restricted the models to offspring with European ancestry, (b) when we adjusted for sample structure using genetic data, (c) when 25OHD was entered as a continuous measure in the models and (d) when we corrected for the effect of season of blood sampling. Gestational vitamin D deficiency was associated with autism-related traits in a large population-based sample. Because gestational vitamin D deficiency is readily preventable with safe, cheap and accessible supplements, this candidate risk factor warrants closer scrutiny.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/1765/113556
Journal Molecular Psychiatry
Citation
Vinkhuyzen, A.A.E, Eyles, D.W, Burne, T.H, Blanken, L.M.E, Kruithof, C.J, Verhulst, F.C, … Mcgrath, J.J. (2016). Gestational vitamin D deficiency and autism-related traits. Molecular Psychiatry, 0, 1–7. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/113556