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Vitamin-D deficiency during pregnancy. The Swedish illness Viktoria Håkansson and Camilla Firing. Somali people in Sweden have 3-4 times higher frequency of autism than the Caucasian Swedish 50% of the population in Sweden suffer from Vitamin-D deficiency during winter months

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vitamin d deficiency during pregnancy

Vitamin-D deficiencyduring pregnancy

The Swedish illness

ViktoriaHåkansson and Camilla Firing


Somali people in Sweden have 3-4 times higher frequency of autism than the Caucasian Swedish

  • 50% of the population in Sweden suffer from Vitamin-D deficiency during winter months
  • The most important source of Vit-D is sunlight and fatty fish
  • During the winter months, there is a significantly lowered amount of sunlight


According to Nordic nutrition recommendations, children and adults should have a intake of 300 IU/day (1 IU= 0,025μg)

  • Pregnant women: 400 IU/day
  • Only 1% of pregnant women obtain this recommended dose
  • On average, Swedish people consume 176 IU/day

Vit-D is important for the skeletal structure

  • Decreased levels may lead to;- depression- osteomalacia- cardiovascular diseases- MS- diabetes- colon and breast cancer- preeclampsia
  • Animal studies show that Vit-D deficiency during embryological development disturbs brain development

The Somali population of Sweden call the increased occurrence of autism the Swedish disease as autism is not frequent in east Africa

  • The illness is believed to arise from an environmental difference between Scandinavia and east Africa

- the MMB-vaccine

- food and culture change


People with dark skin need 5-10 times more sunlight than a person with typically light skin

  • The combination of low light intensity and covering clothing contributes to limit Vit-D uptake
  • Differences in food cultures limit the uptake of Vit-D from fatty fish, milk and cheese
  • The risk of extremely low Vit-D values was 6-8 x higher for women with mothers from Arab countries, Asia or Africa compared to German women
  • A Dutch study showed that 90% of children born by women who wore religious garments that covered a large portion of their skin had Vit-D deficiency

High risk groups of the Swedish population and pregnant women are recommended supplements of 2000 IU/day

  • Even if supplements do not cause prevention of autism, other health benefits are expected
  • Adequate doses to restore the vit-D deficiency are not available in pharmacies (patent)
  • Simular studies have been preformed from Pakistanis in Oslo and Arabs in Denmark
  • The government responds to the issue by adding Vit-D to milk, orange-juice and cheese
  • S Bejerot, M Humble; Prevalence of autism in children born to Somali parents living in Sweden: a brief report, published 19th March 2008
  • S Bejerot, M Humble; Tidskrift for den Norske Legeforening;, Nr. 17 – 11. september 2008; 128:1986-7
  • S Bejerot, M Humble; Dagens Näringsliv;,2008-07-15