VDC test kit slider

Research finds a link between rickets and the prevalence of autism

Posted on: August 24, 2015   by  John Cannell, MD


When I first thought about autism and vitamin D, I thought that the incidence of autism amongst children with vitamin D deficient rickets had to be higher than children without rickets. I diligently searched the literature for any studies, but the closest I could come up with was a 1934 paper is a psychology journal indicating treatment of rickets with vitamin D often cured what was termed “odd introverted behavior” in rachitic children.

Now, Dr. Eman Ahmed Zaky and colleagues in Egypt have published the first study on the prevalence of autism among children with rickets.

Zaky EA et al. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Vitamin D Deficient or Insufficient Rickets IJSR, Volume 4 Issue 6, June 2015.

They tested 35 rachitic children, with a mean age of 2.13 years, for autism using several standardized methods for diagnosing autism (CARS, VABS). They compared those results to 35 non-rachitic control children.

The authors found that the prevalence of autism among children with vitamin D deficient rickets was 25%, while no autism was detected in the control children. This is the first such study in the modern era.

Moreover, the mean age of the children with rickets in this study was about two years of age. Some children seem to develop autism around the age of 3 – 4, so this study probably underestimated the prevalence of autism among children with rickets.

This brings to mind the recent case report in the journal Pediatrics, in which an autistic child with rickets had his autism effectively treated with high dose vitamin D.

Jia F, Wang B, Shan L, Xu Z, Staal WG, Du L. Core symptoms of autism improved after vitamin D supplementation. Pediatrics. 2015 Jan;135(1):e196-8.

A quotation from that paper about the results of high dose vitamin D is in order:

“Vitamin D3 was intramuscularly administered at a dosage of 150 000 IU every month and orally administered at a dosage of 400 IU per day. Follow-up evaluation was performed at the end of the second month. The patient’s parents reported a significant improvement in behavioral problems. Their child now begins to respond when his name is called. He is no longer preoccupied with running in circles and self-injury has almost stopped. He can now play with toys and actively asks his parents to hold him in their arms. He is no longer incontinent, and his abnormal smelling of objects is no longer present.”

Let’s hope our autistic children don’t have to develop rickets in order to be treated with vitamin D.

4 Responses to Research finds a link between rickets and the prevalence of autism

  1. [email protected]

    This is the 51st study on VitaminDWiki which show the association between two diseases, both of which are independently related to low vitamin D.


  2. Ian

    I have almost finished reading the following:
    “The molecular basis of autism”
    Ed: Hossein Fatemi. Springer 2015.

    Not a mention of vitamin D despite the fact that they cover BDNF and its function in relation to autism. No mention of the research indicating vitamin D treatment alone is associated with a decrease in corticospinal excitability and intracortical inhibition. In addition they have a chapter on oxytocin and arginineVSP, still no mention of vitamin D despite the relationship between oxytocin gene function and vitamin D.
    No mention of the study by Patrick and Ames
    (qv: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/blog/new-study-finds-vitamin-d-regulates-three-genes-involved-in-autism/).

  3. John Cannell, MD


    Yes, it amazing. There is an old adage that says “science progresses one funeral at a time.” I now believe that I will not live long enough to see the vitamin D theory of autism be taken seriously by mainstream scientists.

  4. Rita Celone Umile

    Dr. Cannell,

    Every child you treat is a lucky child, and one who just might change the future of our world–perhaps even with respect to vitamin D. 🙂

    You’ve done an excellent job, and I hope you’ll choose to stay with your efforts here.

    Who could every replace you?

Test Your Vitamin D Levels at Home!

Our in-home vitamin D test kit is easy, affordable, and an accurate way to find out your Vitamin D status.

order NOW

We need your help!

We're spreading awareness on Vitamin D Deficiency
Donate NOW
Latest Articles
4 tips for writing an essay in English

Writing an essay in English can be a challenge, especially if you are beginning to learn the language or do not yet fully master it. But don’t worry, did you know that there are strategies that can make this task easier for you? To help you meet this challenge, we leave you a series of […]

Weekly Newsletter

Our Sponsors

December 21st is DDAY. Click here to celebrate the day with us!