LIFESTYLE NEWS - If you’re pregnant, make sure you get some sunshine. Research has linked a lack of vitamin D during pregnancy with autism. Sun exposure is the major source of vitamin D.
Testing vitamin D supplements University of Queensland researchers found giving vitamin D supplements to pregnant mice prevented autism traits in their offspring.
The discovery provides further evidence of the crucial role vitamin D plays in brain development, said lead researcher Professor Darryl Eyles, from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute.
In human studies, QBI researchers recently found a link between pregnant women with a low vitamin D level and the increased likelihood of having a child with autistic traits.
What is autism? Autism - or autism spectrum disorder - describes lifelong developmental disabilities including difficulty or inability to communicate with others and interact socially.
How to get enough vitamin D Sun exposure is the major source of vitamin D - which skin cells manufacture in response to UV rays - but it is also found in some foods.
Dr Wei Luan, a postdoctoral researcher involved in the study, said vitamin D was crucial for maintaining healthy bones. However, Dr Luan said the active hormonal form of vitamin D cannot be given to pregnant women because it may affect the skeleton of the developing foetus.
So, for now, the best bet for moms-to-be may be to get out daily for a gentle walk in the sunshine.