Prenatal Vitamins & Autism: What's the Link?

austism awarenessWhile autism has mystified the medical community for years, a new study suggests some hope that the disorder may be preventable. While the news may not help families coping with autistic children now, it could possibly prevent others from doing so.

Researchers at the University of California Davis found that women who did NOT take prenatal vitamins prior to and during their pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism.  Some women -- with a specific genetic risk -- were as much as seven times more likely to have a child with autism when they didn't take the vitamins.


Those are huge differences, and according to experts, this is the first study that's shown a link between the two. I'd say a pretty good case could be made that any sexually active woman not practicing birth control should perhaps consider taking a daily prenatal vitamin whether they're trying to conceive or not. They can't hurt, and they really do make your hair and nails nice too. Of course, you should always check with your doctor first.

They can be hard to choke down, sure, especially if you're nauseated, but they're so very important for your baby's health. We already knew they help prevent birth defects like Spina Bifida, so women SHOULD already be taking them, but -- for a variety of reasons -- we don't always do so.

Through years of infertility before we conceived my son, I took my prenatal vitamin religiously. I missed very few, if any, days. With my daughter who we conceived when we thought we couldn't have any more children, I hadn't been taking any prenatal vitamins when we found out we were pregnant with her. I started taking them right away when we did, but it scares me to think she could have been affected by autism because I wasn't prepared.

Researchers are unsure why the vitamins seem to reduce the risk, but believe it could be linked to folate levels. In any case, this study offers some real hope in autism prevention, and should serve as an important reminder to women about just how important prenatal vitamins and prenatal health in general are to our children's futures.

Are you surprised to learn that prenatal vitamins may prevent autism? Do you/did you always take your prenatal vitamins?

Image via Beverly & Pack/Flickr

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