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Is zinc or vitamin A deficiency common within the autistic spectrum disorder population of the North West of Ireland?
  1. DU Sweetman1,
  2. S O'Donnell1,
  3. A Smyth2,
  4. T Grant3,
  5. H Greaney1
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, Sligo General Hospital, Sligo Town, Ireland
  2. 2Department of Dietetics, Sligo General Hospital, Sligo Town, Ireland
  3. 3School of Public Health and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Abstract

Background There is current evidence in the medical literature that vitamin/trace element deficiency is common in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There is certainly evidence that due to the restrictive eating patterns of children with ASD they are at increased risk of vitamin/trace element deficiencies. Currently we have no data on the prevalence of these deficiencies in the ASD or the general paediatric population of the North West of Ireland.

Objective To determine the prevalence of zinc and vitamin A deficiency within the ASD population of the North West of Ireland.

Methods Parents of children with ASD in the North West of Ireland (n=150) were invited to take part in the study and 74 children aged 2-18 years under went blood sampling for zinc and vitamin A levels. The control group consisted of 72 well children (2-18 years), attending the paediatric department for routine bloods. Children on vitamin supplements were excluded.

Results The ASD group and control group had 65 (87.8%) males, 9 (12.2%) females and 40 males (55.6%), 32 (44.4%) females respectively. The mean zinc (μmol/L) and vitamin A level (μg/L) for the ASD group were 11.68 and 350.56 and for the control group 11.63 and 319.23 respectively. Zinc levels were not statistically different between the two groups (p=0.858, 95% CI = −0.56 to 0.67). Vitamin A levels were significantly lower in the control group (p=0.027, 95% CI = 3.68 to 58.98), likely secondary to age as a confounder (table 1).

Abstract G108(P) Table 1

Table of study group demographics and zinc and vitamin A levels

Conclusions Zinc and Vitamin A deficiency is uncommon in children with ASD in the North West of Ireland. It is important that the findings of this study are relayed to health professionals and to parents of children with ASD so that informed decisions on vitamin supplementation can be made.

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