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Prenatal vitamin D could help prevent autism in children

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

March 20 2017. A study reported on March 7, 2017 in Molecular Autism suggests a role for prenatal vitamin D supplementation in the prevention of autism in children.

Mice were injected during early pregnancy with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 or a control substance prior injection with a viral mimic or saline. “Prenatal exposure to infection is a recognized environmental risk factor for neuropsychiatric disorders of developmental origins such as autism or schizophrenia,” the authors explain.

“Experimental work in animals indicates that this link is mediated by maternal immune activation involving interactions between cytokine-associated inflammatory events, oxidative stress, and other pathophysiological processes such as hypoferremia and zinc deficiency. Maternal administration of the viral mimic polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidylic acid in mice produces several behavioral phenotypes in adult offspring of relevance to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders.”

Mice born to mothers that experienced maternal immune activation as a result of exposure to the viral mimic showed ASD-related behaviors. However, those whose mothers received vitamin D did not exhibit these deficits.

“Our study used the most widely accepted developmental model of autism in which affected mice behave abnormally and show deficits in social interaction, basic learning and stereotyped behaviors,” stated lead researcher Darryl Eyles of the University of Queensland. “We found that pregnant females treated with active vitamin D in the equivalent of the first trimester of pregnancy produced offspring that did not develop these deficits.”

“Recent funding will now allow us to determine how much cholecalciferol–the supplement form that is safe for pregnant women — is needed to achieve the same levels of active hormonal vitamin D in the bloodstream,” commented coauthor Wei Luan. “This new information will allow us to further investigate the ideal dose and timing of vitamin D supplementation for pregnant women.”

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