Study: less folic acid in pregnancy linked to autism

In a study found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women whose children had autism recalled getting less folic acid through food and supplements early in their pregnancies than those whose kids did not develop the disorder.

Researchers reported last week that meeting recommendations for folic acid, at least 600 micrograms (mcg) per day, in the first month of pregnancy was tied to a 38% lower chance of having a kid with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of the B-vitamin folate and it has been added to breakfast cereals and other grains in the United States since 1998 because deficiencies in pregnant women made it more likely for their babies to have brain and spine birth defects. Folate “becomes very critical in the early stages of life… as well as the first year of life, when basically the brain is establishing connections and functions,” said Edward Quadros from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, first published online May 30, 2012

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