Iodine deficiency in mothers of children with autism and their offspring

Iodine Tablets. CC BY-NC by Arenamontanus

Investigations reporting low levels of important nutrients to be present in cases of autism are no new thing. Whether this means issues with the availability of certain vitamins or minerals necessary to avoid diseases of deficiency such as scurvy or rickets or just lower levels of nutrients required for optimal biological functioning, the research literature is quite voluminous in this area.

The causes of such deficiencies are still the topic of some research speculation although thought probably partly due to various feeding and dietary issues reported as present in some people with autism and potentially, other biological mechanisms.

A recent paper by Rasha Hamza and colleagues* adds to the discussion in this area, observing that within a small cohort of mothers of children with autism and their offspring, over half of study participants were iodine deficient.

Based on an analysis of Egyptian participants, findings for children with autism and their mothers found that 54% and 58% respectfully were deficient in iodine and further, levels of iodine were negatively associated with severity of autism in children as measured by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). The levels of deficiency reported contrasted with no cases of iodine deficiency reported for a control group also studied at the same time.

Iodine is an important mineral for biological functioning due to the body’s requirement for iodine to manufacture thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones regulate various processes throughout the body including how dietary protein, fats and carbohydrates are used. Thyroid hormones also serve important functions for the developing foetus with deficiency being linked to various developmental and neurodevelopment outcomes for infants. Varying levels of thyroid hormones have also been previously linked to cases of autism.

Whilst the Hamza study was a relatively small investigation looking at a very specific geographical population and also only providing a snapshot of iodine levels and CARS scores at the time of study, there is potentially more to be done in this area with a focus on the link between iodine levels and thyroid functioning in relation to autism. Further, whether supplementation may also have knock-on effects for the presentation of the condition.

* Hamza RT. et al. Iodine Deficiency in Egyptian Autistic Children and Their Mothers: Relation to Disease Severity. Arch Med Res. 2013 Oct 9. pii: S0188-4409(13)00222-1.

Further commentary on this study can be found at:

Top Stories and Breaking News

Children with autism in minorities face more hurdles than their peers

Rochester, N.Y. — Families caring for children with autism in minorities face more hurdles than other families who are going through the same challenges. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that children of minorities often get a diagnosis much later than their Caucasian peers. According to the center, children of color are […]

Vaccines Don’t Actually Cause Autism, Anti-Vaxxer Study Finds

Even when anti-vaxxers fund studies, they get the same results: Their hypothesis that vaccines cause autism has nothing to stand on. In a study that included approximately 95,000 children with older siblings, receipt of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), regardless of whether older siblings […]

Media perceptions of Asperger’s and violent crime is misinformed

Editor’s Note: Autism Daily Newscast chose not to report on last week’s shooting in Oregon as we felt it was not important to publicize this tragedy to the autism community. We waited to see how mainstream media would report it. Initially we were glad to see the focus on gun control. Unfortunately, once again media is perpetuating false […]

Paul Whiteley Ph.D. About Paul Whiteley Ph.D.

Researcher based in North East England. An academic background in psychology with a special interest in developmental psychology focused specifically on the autism spectrum and related conditions. Postgraduate degrees based on research examining the safety and efficacy of a gluten- and casein-free (GFCF) diet applied to autism and the potential importance of various comorbidity to the health and wellbeing of those on the autism spectrum, with a continuing research interest in these areas. Keen blogger and amateur science writer (but no formal qualifications in these areas). Science is based on probability.