Thursday, May 07, 2009

Clinic Notes: Vitamin D Deficiency and Autism

The building next door to my clinic is full of tanning beds. Everyday I see a stream of people going in and out year round getting that golden tan under the lights. In the past I have shook my head and pitied them for risking skin cancer just for that back from vacation look. But now I'm not so sure. Some recent research suggest that avoiding the sun causes vitamin D deficiency and may contribute to the development of certain cancers such as prostrate cancer. And a recent study suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be involved in autism. The evidence comes from studies in Minnesota and Sweden involving Somalis immigrants. Their African home was on the equator and they got plenty of sunshine and vitamin D. There was no autism in their native land. In fact, there was no word in their language for autism. But when the Somalis moved the Minnesota and Sweden the incidence of autism in the Somalis soared. The Somalis in Sweden even call it the "Swedish Disease." I wonder now if parent should be dragging their kids to the tanning beds with them. With all the video games and childhood kids don't get outside as much as they used to. Maybe a few minutes in the tanning bed, equipped with video games of course, would cut the rate of autism.