Folic acid during pregnancy reduces incidence of autism

 
By Sheryl Kay • Published: May 14th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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With one in 88 children being diagnosed with some form of autism, the illness has become far too familiar to many people. Researchers continue to look for causes and preventions, and a recent study indicates one fairly simple way to possibly deter the condition. It’s not a cure … but we may be one step closer to prevention.

Just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the large study involved tracking the health of more than 85,000 newborns over a six-year period. Initially, the moms were also queried about their diets and their use of vitamins and supplements during pregnancy.

After six years, the researchers found that 270 of the children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Fifty-six of the children had Asperger syndrome; 114 were diagnosed with autism; and another 100 had an unspecified autism disorder.

The investigators then looked at the mothers’ medical histories, especially their vitamin consumption. Careful analysis revealed that among those mothers who took a folic acid supplement, point-ten percent of their children were diagnosed with autism compared to point-twenty one percent of children whose mothers didn’t take folic acid. This translates to a whopping 39 percent lowered risk for autism disorders among children whose moms took folic acid.

The effects of folic acid, which is found in green leafy vegetables and liver, could not be determined for Asperger syndrome or unspecified autism disorders because too few people were diagnosed with these conditions … but the benefits for reducing the incidence of autism was clear.

Furthermore, analysis showed that folic acid seemed to work even if not taken until early pregnancy. Pregnant or hoping to get pregnant? Reserachers say start taking folic acid as early as you can and consult your health practitioner for a proper dosage.