Friday, July 6, 2007

Researcher sees link between vitamin D and autism

Globe and Mail

The growing prevalence of autism is one of the biggest scientific whodunits in the medical world, with few clues for its rising incidence.

But a U.S. researcher is advancing a controversial hypothesis: that autism is related to vitamin D deficiency during fetal development and early childhood.

Dr. John Cannell, a psychiatrist and prominent vitamin D advocate, says flagging levels of the vitamin in pregnant women and young children could be the elusive factor explaining the rising rate of autism.

The evidence for such a link is circumstantial, and autism experts describe the hypothesis as speculative. But Dr. Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit advocacy group, says autism rates have skyrocketed in lockstep with medical advice given to the public since the late 1980s to avoid all exposure to bright sunshine.

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