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Folic Acid Intake During Early Pregnancy Associated With Reduced Risk Of Autism In Offspring

Posted Jun 15 2012 6:05pm

A new study by researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute suggests that women who consume the recommended daily dosage of folic acid, the synthetic form of folate or vitamin B-9, during the first month of pregnancy may have a reduced risk of having a child with autism.

The study furthers the researchers’ earlier investigations, which found that women who take prenatal vitamins around the time of conception have a reduced risk of having a child with autism. The current study sought to determine whether the folic acid consumed in those supplements was the source of the protective effect. The finding suggests that, in addition to women who already have conceived, those who are attempting to become pregnant should consider consuming folic acid supplements, the authors said.

The study found that women who each day consumed the recommended amount of folic acid (600 micrograms, or .6 milligrams) during the first month of pregnancy experienced a reduced risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder, specifically when the mother and/or her child had a specific genetic variant (MTHFR 677 C>T) associated with less efficient folate metabolism. The study will be published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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