Autism: Vitamins/ Supplements I give my son
A Supplement That Prevents Autism?
Folic acid, often touted as a superhero for healthy pregnancies, may be even more important for prenatal development than experts previously suspected. A new study published in theJournal of the American Medical Associationfinds that rates of autism spectrum disorders drop significantly when children are exposed to folic acid during gestation—though many women may not be taking the vitamin early enough.
TheJAMAstudy tracked the diet and vitamin intake habits of 85,000 women, and found that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rates increased from 0.1% to 0.21% among the children of mothers who did not take prenatal folic acid supplements. Researchers also noted that a child's risk of having a disorder on the autism spectrum dropped roughly 40% when their mother supplemented with folic acid.
Folic acid, also known as folate, is found naturally in green vegetables, beans, and eggs, among other foods. The nutrient is vitally important for DNA synthesis and repair, explains study co-author Ezra Susser, MD, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Folic acid may also affect gene expression, Dr. Susser adds, though exactly how it might benefit neurological development is still unclear.
Of course, it's also important to note that the statistical risk of bearing a child with autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, or other types of ASDs is very low, even among mothers who don’t take folic acid. But while the findings of this latest study will require further investigation, experts already know that folic acid imparts other benefits during pregnancy, such as helping prevent spinal cord defects.
Women who are newly pregnant or may become pregnant, Dr. Susser advises, should take a supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid each day (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes the same recommendation). In particular, folic acid supplements are vital between the month before pregnancy and the two-month mark. “This appeared to be the sensitive period for reducing risk of autism,” he explains.
More from Prevention: The Best Vitamins For Women
Questions? Comments? Contact Prevention's News Team.
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