Maternal selenium deficiency during pregnancy in association with autism and ADHD traits in children: The Odense Child Cohort

Kamil Demircan, Thilo Samson Chillon, Richard Christian Jensen, Tina Kold Jensen, Qian Sun, Steen Joop Bonnema, Dorte Glintborg, Niels Bilenberg, Marianne Skovsager Andersen*, Lutz Schomburg*


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Background: Selenoproteins regulate pathways controlling neurodevelopment, e.g., redox signaling and thyroid hormone metabolism. However, studies investigating maternal selenium in relation to child neurodevelopmental disorders are scarce. Methods: 719 mother-child pairs from the prospective population-based Odense Child Cohort study in Denmark were included. Three selenium biomarkers, i.e. concentrations of serum selenium, selenoprotein P (SELENOP), and activity of glutathione peroxidase 3 (GPX3), along with serum copper, zinc and iron were measured in early third trimester (at 28.9+/-0.8 weeks of pregnancy). ADHD and ASD traits in children were assessed systematically using the established Child Behaviour Checklist at 5 years of age, based on a Danish reference cohort with cut-off at 90th percentile. Multivariable regression models adjusted for biologically relevant confounders were applied. Results: 155 of 719 (21.6 %) children had ASD traits and 59 of 719 (8.2 %) children had traits of ADHD at 5 years of age. In crude and adjusted models, all three selenium biomarkers associated inversely with ADHD traits. For ADHD, fully adjusted OR for 10 μg/L increment in selenium was 0.76 (95 % CI 0.60, 0.94), for one mg/L increment in SELENOP was 0.73 (0.56, 0.95), and for 10 U/L increment in GPx3 was 0.93 (0.87,1.00). Maternal total selenium was inversely associated with child ASD traits, OR per 10 μg/L increment was 0.85 (0.74, 0,98). SELENOP and GPx3 were not associated with ASD traits. The associations were specific to selenium, as other trace elements such as copper, zinc, or iron were not associated with the outcomes. Conclusions: The results provide coherent evidence for selenium deficiency as a risk factor for ADHD and ASD traits in an environment with borderline supply, the causality of which should be elucidated in a randomized controlled trial.

TidsskriftFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Sider (fra-til)324-332
StatusUdgivet - 1. aug. 2024

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