Link Between Folic Acid & Autism Means It's Never Too Early for Prenatal Vitamins

This Just In 10

baby bumpA new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that taking folic acid before pregnancy may lower a baby's risk of developing autism.

Researchers examined data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, which looked at over 85,000 babies who were born between 2002 and 2008. The mothers were asked to report whether they were taking folic acid before and during pregnancy. They found that moms who took folic acid four weeks before pregnancy and eight weeks after becoming pregnant had a 40 percent lower risk of having a baby with autism.

And what's really interesting is that this particular study is not the first one to be published with results showing that a woman's prenatal supplements before getting pregnant can affect a baby's risk of developing autism.

In 2011, Dr. Rebecca Schmidt from University of California, Davis School of Medicine published a study that found "autism arises because of both genetic and external factors, including women’s prenatal vitamin intake before conception."

Dr. Schmidt says, "Given the replication of findings showing reduced risk of autism associated with folic acid supplements taken near conception, more research is needed to investigate whether this association is causal. Interestingly, both studies reported ... a nearly 40 percent reduction in risk for autism.

Wow. I'd say that's definitely "interesting," all right.

It's been seven years since I was pregnant, but I still remember my doctor stressing the importance of taking a prenatal vitamin, in particular, one containing folic acid. But like most expectant moms, I was told that it was important to prevent birth defects. Its effect on autism never even crossed my mind.

But it totally makes sense, based on what pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown, had to say. He is not affiliated with the study, but noted, "We know that folic acid deficiency leads to defects in the development of the nervous system. So it would not be surprising that a deficiency might also affect brain development in other ways."

I didn't start taking prenatal vitamins until I found out I was pregnant, simply because my husband I weren't "actively" trying to conceive. Sure, we knew it was a possibility, but we didn't expect it to happen as quickly as it did.

But for couples who are planning things out much better than we did, the results of this study are definitely valuable. If I were trying to get pregnant again, I'd start taking a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid immediately, especially now that its possible link to autism has been revealed. A potential 40 percent lower risk is more than significant enough to convince me that folic acid is not only beneficial, but also may be a necessity.

Did you start taking folic acid before you got pregnant?

 

Image via devinf/Flickr

pregnancy health, autism

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kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Um not with my first. I didnt even know i was pregnant for a good 8 weeks too. I was notorious for forgettin to take my prenantal too. Shes turned out pretty darn good. My 2nd i was desperate to feel human and prenatals made me sicker. Didnt take them to much with her either. Neither have any detrimental affects on their well beings. Im sure like everything else pregnancy related it varies person to person. I know people who religiously took their vitamins with kids that have many many issues with their health so im not a firm believer that prenatals change to many outcomes.

jalaz77 jalaz77

I have been taking prenatal vitamins as my daily vitamin since I was 27.  I tell all patients to take a prenatal vitamin as a daily vitamin while in the child bearing years unless you don't have a uterus or ovaries. It is important that this is in your system before pregnancy. My hubby says not everyone wants to have babies, I said well then don't have sex cause not every pregnancy is planned, as our proof is the 4th we are pregnant with now, he was not planned, happy none the less.

Wheep... Wheepingchree

Yes, with this current pregnancy.  I started taking a folic acid supplement about 4 months before I got pregnant.  When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was 21 and my health wasn't my number 1 priorityand my pregnancy wasn't planned.  

linzemae linzemae

Nope. And when I started taking extra folic ac. Besides what was I my prenatal (my doctor recommended) It destroyed my stomach

Cynthia Parten

I have been taking prenatal vitamins for a while and my husband and I are trying to have a baby. I want to make sure I am as healthy as I can for any potential babies.

nonmember avatar Kathryn McKee

I must say after my first i was still on my prenatals because i was breast feeding. Pregnant with my #2 still took all thru out and before. And he's my child whom was and has autisim.

nonmember avatar Kathryn McKee

I must say after my first i was still on my prenatals because i was breast feeding. Pregnant with my #2 still took all thru out and before. And he's my child whom was and has autisim.

Tania Taylor

No prenatal vitamins/foic acid with my first child due to morning sickness issues...totally normal healthy child. Totally took prenatal/folic acid with my 2nd before and during. He is my child with autism. This study has no bearing for me.

nonmember avatar Becky

I took folic acid for the first 3 months

amnew... amnewlon8982

for all of you that have trouble with the prescription prenatals, try going to a health food store and picking up some natural prenatals...they work just as well and are derived from plant based sources which were much easier on my digestive system...

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