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Maternal Folic Acid Intake Early in Pregnancy Associated with Reduced Autism Risk — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
February 13, 2013

Maternal Folic Acid Intake Early in Pregnancy Associated with Reduced Autism Risk

By Kelly Young

Folic acid supplementation among women is associated with a reduced risk for autism in their offspring, according to a JAMA study.

Researchers studied a cohort of 85,000 infants from Norway, 0.13% of whom were later diagnosed with autistic disorder. Their mothers reported whether they took folic acid supplements during the 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after the beginning of pregnancy. (Food was not fortified with folic acid during this study.) After adjustment for potential confounders, mothers who took folic acid during this interval had children who were less likely to have autistic disorder, relative to mothers who did not use folic acid (adjusted odds ratio, 0.61). There was no association with Asperger syndrome or other autism spectrum disorders.

A secondary analysis done with fish oil supplements did not find a similar association with autism, suggesting that the effect was not attributable to general health-conscious behaviors.

CDC editorialists call the study "encouraging" and "provocative," but say it "seems at odds with the continued increases in [autism spectrum disorder] diagnoses observed in the United States since the folic acid food fortification program began in 1998."

Reader Comments (1)

K Hedfelde

Interesting article - also the information that the USA ASD rate still increasing as is asthma - there is more to autism than folic acid. the states are giving far too many vaccinations - yearly flu jabs in my opinion to babies children is disgusting - and making it compulsary is against human rights. The parent knows what is best for them and their family and no one else should be making that decision

Competing interests: None declared

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