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Folic acid supplements in early pregnancy may reduce the risk of severe language delay in children
Date:10/12/2011

October 12, 2011-- Research has established that taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy reduces the risk of bearing a child with neural tube defects, but little is known about the relationship between prenatal folic acid and neurodevelopment after birth. A collaborative study between investigators at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has now reported that mothers who took folic acid supplements from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after conception reported a significantly lower prevalence of severe language delay in their children at age 3. The study was based in a unique Norwegian pregnancy cohort often referred to as "MoBa".

The full study findings are published online in the October 12 issue of JAMA.

The current analysis included 19,956 boys and 18,998 girls. Of these children, 204 (0.5%) were rated as having severe language delay, defined as minimal expressive language, only 1-word or unintelligible utterances. Among women who took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy, the reported prevalence of such delay was 0.4%, but among the approximately 9,000 children whose mothers took no folic acid, the delay was more than twice as common: 0.9% (81 children).

Across the entire sample, severe language delays were four times more common in boys than girls, as is typically the case.

"Unlike the United States, Norway does not fortify foods with folic acida fact that increases the contrast between women who do and do not take folic acid supplements and makes Norway a good place to study this effect," noted lead author Christine Roth, Clin.Psy.D., MSc, of the Division of Mental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo and a visiting researcher at the Mailman School. "If in future research this relationship were shown to be causal, it would have important implications for understanding the biological processes underlying disrupted neuro
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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