Iodine in autism spectrum disorders



The aim of our study was to assess the iodine status of Polish boys with severe autism compared to their healthy peers and evaluate the relationship between urinary iodine, thyroid hormones, body mass index and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptomatology.


Tests were performed in 40 boys with ASD and 40 healthy boys, aged 2-17 from the same geographic region in Poland. Urinary iodine (UI), free triiodothyronine (fT3), free thyroxine (fT4), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), BMI, and individual symptoms measured by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) were correlated. Validated ion chromatography method with pulsed amperometric detection was applied for the determination of urinary iodine after optimized alkaline digestion in a closed system assisted with microwaves.


19 out of 40 children with ASD had mild to moderate iodine deficiency. Statistically significant lower levels of UI, fT3 and fT4 and higher levels of TSH were found in the autistic group when compared with the control group. Concentration of iodine in urine was negatively associated with clinician’s general impression for children between 11 and 17 years. Emotional response, adaptation to environmental change, near receptor responsiveness, verbal communication, activity level, and intellectual functioning are more associated with UI than other symptoms listed in CARS.


The severity of certain symptoms in autism is associated with iodine status in maturing boys. Thyroid hormones were within normal reference ranges in both groups while urinary iodine was significantly lower in autistic boys suggesting that further studies into the non-hormonal role of iodine in autism are required.