Iron Supplements & Autism
Iron deficiency appears to be associated with autism, although researchers aren’t yet sure why. Autism is a developmental disorder that occurs in the first three years of life and affects a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Treatment options include behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies and medications. Alternative treatments, such as special diets, are being researched to determine safety and beneficial effects.
Iron deficiency is more prevalent in children with autism, according to a 2002 study published by A. Latif and colleagues in “Autism.” Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, impaired growth and intellectual development and gastrointestinal tract abnormalities. It may also cause mood changes and poor concentration. However, iron deficiency in children with anemia is not linked with severity of autistic symptoms, developmental level and behavioral problems, according to a 2010 study published by Ayhan Bilgiç and colleagues in “Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
Many autistic children have insufficient dietary iron intake. Iron therapy can significantly improve the sleep disturbances common in children with autism, according to a 2007 study published by Cara F. Dosman and colleagues in “Pediatric Neurology.” Dosman and colleagues suggested that children with autism spectrum disorders be routinely screened for iron deficiency.