Navigation Links
Folic Acid in Pregnancy May Lower Autism Risk

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that women who start taking folic acid supplements either before or early in their pregnancy may reduce their child's risk of developing autism.

"The study does not prove that folic acid supplements can prevent childhood autism. But it does provide an indication that folic acid might be preventive," said study lead author Dr. Pal Suren, from the division of epidemiology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.

"The findings also provide a rationale for further investigations of possible causes, as well as investigations of whether folic acid is associated with a reduced risk of other brain disorders in children," he said.

Taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy is already known to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, which affects the spine, and anencephaly, which causes part of the brain to be missing.

Alycia Halladay, senior director of environmental and clinical sciences at Autism Speaks, said that "parents always wonder what they can do to reduce the risk [of autism], and this [folic acid] is a very inexpensive item that mothers can do both before pregnancy and very early in their pregnancy."

As to why folic acid may be beneficial, Halladay speculated that the nutrient might blunt a genetic risk for autism or boost other processes during pregnancy that are protective.

Another expert, Dr. Roberto Tuchman, director of the Autism and Neurodevelopment Program at Miami Children's Hospital's Dan Marino Center, said, "This study suggests that in some kids autism spectrum disorders may be preventable. As a clinician who works with autism spectrum disorders it is exciting that we can look at potentially preventable factors in autism. This is really encouraging."

Still, Tuchman cautioned that the study findings are very preliminary, and it isn't possible to tell which autism spectrum disorders, if any, folic acid may prevent.

The study findings were published in the Feb. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

To see whether folic acid might protect children from autism, Suren's team collected data on more than 85,000 children born in Norway from 2002 to 2008.

Over an average of six years of follow-up, 270 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, 114 with autism, 56 with Asperger syndrome and 100 with an unspecified autism disorder.

Among those mothers who took folic acid supplements, 0.10 percent of their children were diagnosed with autism, compared with 0.21 percent of children whose mothers didn't take folic acid. That's a 39 percent lowered risk for the neurodevelopment disorder, Suren said.

Women who took the supplements were more likely to be better educated and have planned their pregnancy. They were also likely to be thin and not smoke. For most, it was their first child, the researchers added.

Suren's group did not find a connection between folic acid and either Asperger syndrome or unspecified autism disorder. "For Asperger syndrome, the number of children was too low to obtain sufficient statistical power in the analyses," Suren explained.

The protective affect of folic acid seemed to work even if not taken until early pregnancy. No protection from folic acid was seen if taken at mid- pregnancy, the researchers noted.

"The results support the current recommendations of taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy and emphasize the importance of starting early, preferably before conception," Suren said.

Halladay said the study finding confirms the results of another study that showed that folic acid might reduce the risk of autism. "The benefits of prenatal care, including taking vitamins, has been well-documented for things like birth defects and even language delay," she said.

Whether or not folic acid supplementation will make a dent in the growing number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder isn't known. An estimated one in 88 children in the United States has been diagnosed with some form of autism spectrum disorder, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United States and other countries many foods, such as breads and pasta, are fortified with folic acid to help prevent birth defects. But, it isn't clear yet how much folic acid might guard against autism, so a woman should discuss her options with her doctor, Halladay said.

More information

For more on autism, visit the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

SOURCES: Pal Suren, M.D., M.P.H., Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo; Alycia Halladay, Ph.D., senior director, environmental and clinical sciences, Autism Speaks; Roberto Tuchman, M.D., director, Autism and Neurodevelopment Program, Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center; Feb. 13, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association

Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Lower autism risk with folic acid supplements in pregnancy
2. Folic Acid Supplements Dont Affect Cancer Risk, Review Finds
3. High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy May Predict Later Ills, Study Says
4. Obesity, excess weight gain during pregnancy linked to heavier babies in African-American women
5. Laborist obstetrical care improves pregnancy outcomes
6. No increase in brain aneurysm rupture risk during pregnancy and delivery
7. Exposure to Smog in Early Pregnancy Linked to Complications
8. Smog Exposure During Pregnancy Tied to Tinier Babies
9. Epilepsy Drug in Pregnancy Linked to Autism Risk in Study
10. Study Links Epilepsy Drug in Pregnancy to Lower IQ
11. Hypertension during pregnancy increases risk of end-stage renal disease
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Folic Acid in Pregnancy May Lower Autism Risk
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... Foundation (Meso Foundation) released information for caregivers and held two webinars on topics ... available on demand free of charge at . , With a ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Thermi™, a world ... announce that its ThermiRFR temperature controlled radiofrequency platform has received CE marking and ... platform which uses temperature as a clinical endpoint. The technology has been ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... vehicle experience this summer, ushering in a new era of publicly accessible automated ... electric shuttle, will continue to offer guests an up-close look at the shuttle ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... On Saturday, October 24th, 2015, at the Mill ... fundraising event, a 5K walk known as “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer”. Patients and ... is also located in Battle Creek, joined in for this campaign that sought to ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... During the week of ... raise funds for its research, education, support, and advocacy efforts. The campaign is ... , The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which also goes by Meso Foundation, holds ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015 North America was ... grow at a CAGR of 7.6% from 2015 to 2020. ... 135.6 million in 2014, and is expected to grow at a ... to the new Market Research Report "North America Cardiac Output Monitoring ... (Hospitals, ambulatory care, others) - Analysis And Forecast To 2020", the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... --> --> ... by Product (Soft Tissue, All Tissue, Dental Welding Lasers), Application ... Geography - Global Forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, is ... CAGR of 5.2% during the forecast period from 2015 to ... 62 Figures spread through 167 P ages and in-depth ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. and ST. ... Cross and Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX ) today ... benefit agreement. The partnership, which began in 1999, will ... --> --> After evaluating pharmacy ... process, Premera concluded that Express Scripts continues to offer ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: