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Some researchers are beginning to investigate whether a lack of vitamin D may be linked to an increased risk for autism, based on the experience of Somali immigrants who have moved to northern latitudes.
An article in Scientific American discusses two reports, one from Minnesota and the other from Stockholm, noting that the Somali immigrant communities in both locations showed disproportionately high rates of autism.
"It has shocked the community," says Huda Farah, a Somali-born molecular biologist, in the article. "We never saw such a disease in Somalia. We do not even have a word for it."
Both Sweden and the U.S. have been experiencing an overall increase in autism diagnoses, making it difficult to be certain of the vitamin D connection, but supporters point to medical consensus that vitamin D during development and infancy is important for normal brain function and a study that showed higher rates of autism in rainy counties of Oregon, Washington and California than sunny ones.
Researchers in both countries are conducting studies to assess the theory; giving vitamin D tests to parents, children and pregnant mothers
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