I have established that low levels of vitamin D at birth increase the risk of schizophrenia in later life in two independent large Danish case/control studies. I have also shown such exposures are associated with increased rates of autism in a large Dutch general population cohort. I have developed an animal model of Developmental Vitamin D (DVD) deficiency which produces phenotypes that mimic many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. In our latest study we have shown the hormonally active form of vitamin D abolishes all phenotypes in a leading inflammatory animal model of relevance to autism.
In this talk I will discuss our extensive data that indicates optimal vitamin D status is required for normal healthy brain development. The evidence obtained from our epidemiological studies is convergent with data obtained from our preclinical and cellular models indicating vitamin D is a powerful developmental neurosteroid. In the absence of this steroid, brain ontogeny is irreversibly affected leading to permanent molecular, cellular and functional brain abnormalities.