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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Autism prevalence linked to UVB radiation?

I first wrote about autism more than five years ago. Now, Dr. William Grant and I have analyzed surface UVB radiation in the USA and found that areas with the highest surface UVB have about half as much autism as do areas with the lowest surface UVB.

Grant WB and Cannell JJ. Autism prevalence in the United States with respect to solar UV-B doses: An ecological study. Dermatoendocrinology Volume 4, Issue 4   October/November/December 2012

Medscape New reported on the study:

Harrison P. More Evidence Vitamin D May Reduce Autism Risk. Medscape Medical News, Dec 27, 2012

Medscape reported,

“According to Dr. Grant, a map of autism rates published in the Los Angeles Times in December 2011 prompted the study. The map showed that autism rates among children between the ages of 6 and 17 years in 2010 were highest in the Northeast and on the West Coast and lowest among the Southern and Plains states — a trend that is similar to that seen for many types of cancer. Rates of autism were also 40% higher in African Americans living in states with the least solar UVB doses compared with white Americans.”

It is important to stress that autism is heritable, meaning genetic changes are clearly associated with autism. However, this does not mean it is a classic genetic disease. Indeed how could a genetic disease explode into an epidemic in a few short decades? Our new data is compatible with an ongoing injury to children’s brains, not just a gestational event.

Indeed, I believe autism is the meeting of a heritable change in the metabolic machinery of the vitamin D system in the brain meeting (for the first time in human history) with widespread substrate (vitamin D) starvation. Just think of one of the parts of the system, like the vitamin D receptor (VDR). A study recently showed that the number of VDRs a monkey inherits inside his arteries, meeting with vitamin D deficiency, is associated with the severity of the atherosclerosis that monkey develops. That is, a genetic condition — the number of VDRs the monkey inherits — affects the severity of the atherosclerosis. I have written about this.

Cannell JJ. Mechanism of action in autism. Vitamin D Council Blog, May 7, 2012

I believe the same thing is true of autism: a heritable difference in either the VDRs or the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D, have met, over the last 20 years, unprecedented vitamin D deficiency. For those children unlucky enough to inherit either a little VDR or a little enzyme, they are then doubly unlucky to meet with D deficiency, causing a “genetic epidemic.”

This theory explains so many facts about autism:

I could go on, but I am getting tired of writing about autism. One of the things that keeps me going is our free autism clinic and the wonderful reports we get from so many parents, once their autistic child’s vitamin D levels are maintained at high normal levels. I wish I could say all parents notice a big difference but not all do. However, many do, especially when magnesium needs are also met, and that makes my five years of struggle worth it.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

One Response to Autism prevalence linked to UVB radiation?

  1. bacsithuy5@gmail.com says:

    I am a veterinarian involved in anti-GE foods,at the moment with GE soy, in NZ and note that Dow AgScience show, in their application, the lectins in GE soy are 25% higher.Lectins are known to produce changes in the gut similar to those found in autistic children; the allied use of glyphosate also causes changes in the gut flora(also found in autistic children). Could these changes be affecting the number of VitD receptors; has anyone investigated this aspect?