Folic Acid May Cut Autism Spectrum Risk
Norway researchers review 85K children
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 13, 2013 8:14 AM CST
Taking folic acid could help cut the risk of an autism spectrum disorder in one's children.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Taking folic acid around the time of conception could significantly reduce the number of babies with an autism spectrum disorder, a study suggests. In a review of 85,000 children born in Norway between 1999 and 2009, researchers found that moms who didn't take a folic acid supplement were 2.1 times more likely to have a baby with autistic disorder. Odds of taking a supplement were increased among certain moms, including those who went to college and didn't smoke; controlling for these factors, researchers found that folic acid was linked to a 39% lower risk of autistic disorder.

Before controlling for these factors, folic acid also appeared to cut the risk of Asperger syndrome and "pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified"; that statistical link disappeared, however, when researchers controlled for the variables, the Los Angeles Times reports. Taking folic acid later in pregnancy didn't seem to have an effect on autism spectrum risk, the scientists found. Worth noting: Autism is diagnosed much more often in the US than in Norway, despite the fact that US food manufacturers are required to add folic acid to breads, cereals, and other grains.

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Feb 13, 2013 2:38 PM CST
Totally reasonable possibility that autism is related to folic acid levels. Folic acid is a MUST to grow the neural tube correctly. What is absurd is that we are still having this problem. Science has known for at least 20 years that a large number of birth defects are preventable if women take a multivitamin a day, or even just eat fruit every day. I personally started this campaign with my daughter when she was eight years old. Explained to her that it was her responsibility as a woman to keep her vitamin level up. Brought it up again about once a year, and showed her what neural tube defects look like. Next year I asked her how she would feel if she had a baby with this kind of defect, realizing that her irresponsibility had caused it... I did kinda lay a guilt trip on her. I worked. She takes a vitamin, drinks high quality juice, or eats fruit every single day. Guess it is time to put the public service announcements on Nickelodeon, so that the kids will grow up hearing the message.
Feb 13, 2013 1:54 PM CST
Here comes the Newser Scientific Brigade!
Feb 13, 2013 8:53 AM CST
But college-educated women are less likely to have autism in the first place. And if autism is genetically-based, the whole study is worthless, because autism-free mothers are more likely to have autism-free babies. Vitamin-mongering hoo-ha. Probably sponsored by a health food company, to peddle more pills.