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