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Autism and rickets

Posted on: December 13, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


I have always wondered, if vitamin D deficiency is involved in autism, why don’t young autistic children have rickets. That question has gnawed on my mind for the last four years. At some time in their life, autistic children should have evidence of abnormal bones. Believe it or not, no one has ever done wrist x-rays (the easiest way to see rickets) on a group of young autistic children.

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1 Response to Autism and rickets

  1. JBG

    The following restores, with a bit of editing, the comments I put here Dec 14 that were subsequently lost, I’m told, in a server crash.
    = = = = =
    I’m not sure I understand the logic of the proposed study.

    If you compare a sample of autistic children with a control sample of children who are known to be vitamin D sufficient, almost certainly a difference will be observed simply because the larger population of all children, from which the autistic sample is drawn, includes so many who are NOT vitamin D sufficient. How can one, from that result, conclude anything about autism and vitamin D deficiency? It would seem that an adequate study would need to compare a sample of autistic children with a random or parallel sample of non-autistic children, a costlier and messier proposition.
    = = = = =

    A couple further thoughts:

    It is conceivable that autism might, at least sometimes, include a
    “signature” in the way it interacts with vitamin D and with bones. A
    radiologist might be able to distinguish such a signature by qualitative
    examination of many radiographs, both autistic and non-autistic. Success
    would be demonstrated if the radiologist could then sort more radiographs
    into those from autistic children and those from non-autistic children.

    If autistic children turn out NOT to have distinctive bones, a possible
    explanation is that a child can get enough vitamin D to prevent rickets
    without getting enough to prevent autism. I’m thinking of your recent post
    about the various “pools” of vitamin D.

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