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Folic Acid May Lessen Autism Risk From Pesticides

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By    |   Friday, 08 Sep 2017 12:09 PM

Expectant moms who take the recommended amounts of folic acid around the time they conceive may reduce their children's risk of pesticide-related autism.

Having adequate amounts of the B vitamin folic acid before and during early pregnancy is known to reduce the risks of birth defects of the brain and spine in babies.  

Researchers at University of California, Davis found that that taking 800 or more micrograms of folic acid during pregnancy significantly lowered the babies' risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides.

"We found that if the mom was taking folic acid during the window around conception, the risk associated with pesticides seemed to be attenuated," said Rebecca J. Schmidt, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. "Mothers should try to avoid pesticides. But if they live near agriculture, where pesticides can blow in, this might be a way to counter those effects."

For the study, researchers looked at 296 children between 2 and 5 who had been diagnosed with ASD and 220 who had developed typically. Mothers were interviewed about their household pesticide exposure during pregnancy, as well as their folic acid and B vitamin intake. Data from agricultural spraying was also linked with the mothers' addresses.

Mothers who took less than 800 micrograms and encountered household pesticides had a much higher estimated risk of having a child who developed an ASD than moms who took 800 micrograms of folic acid or more and were not exposed to pesticides.

The risk increased according to the amount of exposure. Women with low folic acid intake who were exposed to agricultural pesticides during a window from three months before conception to three months afterward also were at higher estimated risk.

"The mothers who had the highest risk were the ones who were exposed to pesticides regularly," Schmidt said. "It would be better for women to avoid chronic pesticide exposure if they can while pregnant."

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

A form of folic acid called folinic acid could improve the communication skills of children with autism, according to a study from Arkansas Children's Research Institute. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial found that high prescription doses of folinic acid not only helped autistic children communicate better, but also identified specific biomarkers that could single out which children were most likely to respond to treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one child in 68 had autism in 2010, a 119.4 percent increase from 2000.

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Expectant moms who take the recommended amounts of folic acid around the time they conceive may reduce their children's risk of pesticide-related autism.Having adequate amounts of the B vitamin folic acid before and during early pregnancy is known to reduce the risks of...
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2017-09-08
Friday, 08 Sep 2017 12:09 PM
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