Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with a variety of adverse maternal and pediatric outcomes. Disease outcomes that have been observed in pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient include increased risk of C-section, preeclampsia, bacterial vaginosis, and gestational diabetes. In children born to deficient mothers, increased rates of childhood asthma, type 1 diabetes, low birthweight, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been observed. Although there is much evidence to support these correlations, much is yet to be understood regarding the etiology of these outcomes. This paper specifically examines the relationships between risk factors for vitamin D deficiency and development of ASD. These relationships provide strong justification for the studies that are being conducted in the USU Imrnunogenetics Lab as well as proposals for future investigations. Current work in the Imrnunogenetics lab includes analysis of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the vitamin D receptor gene of individuals with ASD and their immediate families. Additionally, a recently proposed project in collaboration with Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) will also seek to find correlation between pre-conception vitamin D levels with maternal health outcomes (i.e. gestational diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia) and early childhood outcomes (i.e. childhood asthma, type 1 diabetes, low birth weight, and autism). Based on increasing evidence, and arguments presented in this paper, we expect that one or more of these outcomes will be significantly associated with insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels prior to conception. Although there are several outcomes of interest listed in the IHC study, the relationships between risk factors for vitamin D deficiency and ASD receive the most attention in this paper, due to their unique empirical consistencies.

Included in

Biology Commons



Faculty Mentor

Thayne Sweeten

Departmental Honors Advisor

Kim Sullivan