Link Between Autism & Prenatal Vitamins Could Surprise You

pregnant bellyA study conducted in California has found a new link between how much folic acid a woman takes in during her pregnancy and autism. Out of all of the moms who were involved in the study, the ones whose kids have autism all reported a lower intake of folic acid at the beginning of their pregnancies. Those who made sure to get the recommended 600 micrograms per day had a 38 percent lower chance of giving birth to a baby who would be diagnosed with autism or Asperger's.

When a woman doesn't get enough folic acid, it's been shown to have an effect on the unborn baby's brain development. And the beginning of a pregnancy appears to be the most critical time for a woman to make sure to get the recommended daily intake, because it's the time when the brain is "establishing connections and functions," according to Edward Quadros from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York (who was not involved in the study).

It's always scary to hear about any sort of autism link during pregnancy, but this one is actually just a matter of following doctor's orders when it comes to maintaining proper pregnancy health.

I can remember my OB-GYN preaching folic acid up and down while I was pregnant with my son. The minute I found out I was pregnant, she put me on a good prenatal vitamin to take to ensure I'd get my recommended dose every single day. And she also encouraged me to eat foods rich in folate, such as spinach and broccoli.

I never thought I had to worry whether or not I was getting enough, but interestingly, this study also shows that the first month of pregnancy is the most crucial time as far as folic acid intake goes. And most women don't even realize they're pregnant until month number two -- so how are we supposed to know when to start taking it if we aren't planning on getting pregnant?

I guess a good rule of thumb is to go ahead and get on a prenatal vitamin if you are trying to conceive so that you're already getting the recommended daily intake of folic acid before you become pregnant. And if your bun in the oven is a surprise? Calling your doctor and following his/her orders as far as maintaining good health throughout your pregnancy is definitely a wise move.

Are you taking prenatal vitamins? Have you worried about whether you're getting enough folic acid?


Image via one tiny spark/Flickr

pregnancy health, autism


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consc... consciousmom

I always use 5-MTHF instead of "folic acid."  It's a different form of it that is better utilized by the body.

calim... calimom73

Yep I'm on them

Cynthia Parten

I am taking prenatal vitamins. My husband and I plan to start trying within the next year. I have heard it's good to start taking them 6 months to a year before conceiving. I definitely want to make sure that I am already getting all the vitamins that I (and the baby) need before I get pregnant.

nonmember avatar Rachael

Most multi-vitamins that are tailored specifically to women have enough folic acid for early pregnancy(and cause less nausea during early pregnancy). My OB and my midwife checked the levels on my regular multivitamin and recommended I stick with it for the first trimester before starting a prenatal vitamin in the second trimester. I think this really helped me avoid major morning sickness.

nonmember avatar Larissa

I believe I read an article just yesterday that preached up and down that scientists have discovered a correlation between autism and the use of antidepressants. 

It seems every day that scientists are discovering some new and even more discrepant link to autism. But the truth is, these are all just theories. 

No doctor or scientist has thus far come out with irrefutable proof that this or that causes autism and it's my personal opinion that publishing such untested, and therefore invalid, theories is irresponsible and downright cruel--it causes even more anxiety for already anxious expecting moms. 

Needless to say, I believe I'll take this new "evidence" like I take my junk food--with a grain of salt. 

nonmember avatar Em

Correlation does not equal causation people.

draco... dracobella

Thank you Larissa. Every time I see an article like this, I cringe. I have 3 children with ASD. I follow the current research on my own, it really doesn't need to be rehashed in the regular media. Now if you want to post something positive about a mom or special needs child, that would be much better. slapping forehead

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

I hate these "studies" .. it just seems like there are scientists out there specifically paid to scare the bejesus out of us pregnant ladies. But anyway, I take a prenatal with extra iron, a folic acid supplement, and a dha supplement and have been ever since my 6th week, when I found out...sooo I think I have my bases covered to the best of my abilities...

Heather Duso Johnson

I've heard for years that if you are thinking of conceiving, even just kind of thinking about it and aren't on bc, you should be taking a vitamin or increasing your folic acid in some other way.  Spina bifida has been shown to be possibly be caused by not having enough folic acid for instance.    

nonmember avatar EmmaFromÉire

Yep Evelyn, we scientists are raking in the money making up scare tactics. Didn't you know that that's all we ever do? Not a single one of us cares about discovering things that could potentially really help people, all we want to do is frighten people just like you.

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