TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Taking folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy was linked to a decreased risk of a having a child with a severe language delay at age 3, according to new research.
The Norwegian study found that women who took no folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy had more than twice the risk of having a child with a serious language delay compared to women who took folic acid supplements.
"Maternal use of supplements containing folic acid within the period from four weeks before, to eight weeks after conception was associated with a substantially reduced risk of severe language delay in children at age 3 years," said the study's lead author Christine Roth, a Ph.D. student in the division of mental health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.
Results of the study are published in the Oct. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Folic acid supplementation is already recommended for women of childbearing age, because adequate folic acid stores have been shown to help prevent major birth defects, such as spina bifida and other neural tube defects. Folic acid is important in allowing nervous system cells to reproduce and to repair themselves, according to background information in the study.
In the United States, many foods, such as breads and cereals, are fortified with folic acid. In Norway, flour is not fortified with folic acid, according to Roth.
The study included data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study, a prospective observational study of pregnant women and their offspring conducted from 1999 through 2008. Data were collected on the children until they were 3 years old.
Mothers assessed their children's language skills using a six-point language scale. Children who had only minimal expressive language, which was defined as only using one w
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