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Folic Acid Lowers Autism Risk

Monday, 18 June 2012 01:17 PM

Women who take folic acid early in pregnancy are far less likely to have children who develop autism, new research shows.
The study, by researchers at the University of California-Davis, provides fresh support for pregnant women to consume the recommended daily dosage of folic acid, the synthetic form of folate or vitamin B-9, during the first month of pregnancy.
The study adds to previous work that shows women who take prenatal vitamins around the time of conception have a reduced risk of having a child with autism.
"This research is congruent with the findings of earlier studies that suggest that improved neurodevelopmental outcomes are associated with folic acid intake in early pregnancy," said Rebecca J. Schmidt, who led the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "It further supports recommendations that women with any chance of becoming pregnant should consider consuming folic acid at levels of 600 micrograms or greater per day."
For the study, the researchers collected health information from 835 California mothers of 2- to 5-year-old children who had autism, developmental delays or typical development. Each mother's average daily folic acid intake was tracked for the period when the women were pregnant and for the three months before they became pregnant.
The study found that mothers of typically developing children reported greater-than-average intake of folic acid than those of children with autism spectrum disorder. As the amount of folic acid consumed increased, the associated risk for autism spectrum disorder decreased, researchers found.
They said folic acid offers protection against problems in embryonic brain development by facilitating DNA reactions that can lead to changes in the way that the genetic code is read.
About 1 in 88 children born today will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

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Women who take folic acid in pregnancy are less likely to have children with autism.
Monday, 18 June 2012 01:17 PM
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