Home > Science, Uncategorized > More Evidence of Protection from Prenatal Folic Acid

More Evidence of Protection from Prenatal Folic Acid

A large Norwegian study provides strong evidence that women who take prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, in the weeks before and after conception, reduce the risk that a future child will develop severe language delays—defined as speaking one word or less at age 3. The study, published Oct. 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, comes on the heels of a recent American study that found a significantly reduced risk of autism among children born to mothers who took prenatal vitamins before conceiving.

Ezra Susser, M.D., Dr.P.H., Autism Speaks Scientific Advisory Board member

The senior author of the study was Ezra Susser, M.D., Dr.PH., professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a member of Autism Speaks’ scientific advisory committee. The lead author was Christine Roth, M.Sc., Clin.Psy.D., of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The investigators analyzed pregnancy questionnaires completed by nearly 109,000 pregnant women enrolled in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. They compared the prevalence of severe language delay among 3-year-olds according to whether or not their mothers took supplements containing folic acid during the 4 weeks before and 8 weeks after conception. They found that a mother’s use of folic acid during this crucial period reduced her child’s risk of severe language delay from just under one percent (0.9%) to less than a half percent (0.4%). Unlike the United States, Norway does not require folic acid fortification of grain products.

For years, physicians have encouraged women to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid because its use during early pregnancy reduces the risk that a baby will be born with neural tube defects, another disorder of brain development, comments Dr. Susser. “It’s important not to make blanket recommendations based on this one study,” he adds. “At the same time, we’re seeing converging lines of evidence that the effect of folic acid deficiency may be a real clue to the underlying biology that leads to autism and related problems in language development.”

  1. October 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    not true, I did all, and my son hase autism

  2. October 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Why are we deficient in Folate to begin with? And who is most susceptible? And when is supplementation too much? And when does it either interfer with or what are the consequences of supplementation in the presence of a B12 defidiency?

  3. October 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    My 34 year old brother has severe autism. He didn’t speak until he was about 10. Now he can say he wants french fries and other stuff he shouldn’t have. He can say “Help in the bathroom.” Things like that. But he’s very sound sensitive, doesn’t talk much more than that. If in the right mood, he can write (of his own free will) “I love you, Sister” in finger paint. That’s about it. I’m curious – would giving him folic acid now make any real difference? Would it hurt him to take it (he’s on a few other psych meds too)?

  4. Annette
    October 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I took folic acid and did EVERYTHING I was supposed to do with my pregnancies, my oldest and youngest ended up autistic…..I think this research is wrong…

  5. Chris
    October 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I don’t think it’s fair to say the research is wrong. As autism covers a very large spectrum, it’s possible that this research points to folic acid helping prevent some forms of autism. Hopefully more research will reveal more ways of preventing more cases of autism.

    My question is — what dosage is best? Prenatal vitamins are not regulated and there are many different doses out there.

  6. katerina Douka
    October 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I also took all my vitamins (incuded folic acid) and both my children have autism.

  7. sara stout
    October 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    To everyone giving anecdotal evidence to refute this study:
    they aren’t saying that FOLIC ACID will DEFINITELY PREVENT Autism, but rather that a mother taking folic acid is correlated with fewer incidences of AUTISM.
    AKA EVEN IF YOU TOOK FOLIC ACID AND YOUR CHILD IS ON THE SPECTRUM, THAT DOESN’T MAKE THIS STUDY FALSE!

    SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PUTS US CLOSER TO A CURE, AND EVERYONE’S INDIVIDUAL STORIES DOESN’T CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF A STUDY. PLEASE READ THEM AND REMEMBER THAT CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION!

  8. Mia Costley
    October 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I did everything, including taking folic acid, to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. My child stopped speaking at 18 months and was diagnosed with severe Autism at 4 yrs. I just want to know how and why this happened. :/

  9. October 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    The simple fact that a mother took folic acid and the child still developed autism should not be the main focus here. The real truth is that folic acid and about fifty other nutrients have been found to be deficient in those with autism. The most notable of these include the fatty acids, choline, and cholesterol in addition to other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. A comparison of the composition of the brain with regular eggs or egg yolks will show that healthy brain is very nearly duplicated with egg yolks except that the brain contains so much more cholesterol than eggs. (3% in brain compared to 0.42% in eggs). My recommendation is to have the nutritional equivalent of two regular eggs every day to adequately provide for the missing nutrients in those with autism.

  10. Tina
    October 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I am glad that someone is looking into causes and not just giving us the old bandaid fix! There is so much that is intertwined in our Autism family. It’s not going to be easy, but if we keep cheering on these researchers, someday they will unravel this mystery like a ball of yarn (one that is all tangled up and intertwined with so many elements-brains, guts, allergies, immune systems and deficiencies)! Keep on working folks, we stand behind you so someday you can help finish our stories.

    • October 20, 2011 at 9:35 am

      Thanks so much, Tina. I’ve heard our scientists express how greatly they appreciate such words of encouragement.

  11. ruth
    October 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    My daughter was strict with her vitamins and all her prenatal care.Im not sure whom he studied,maybe come across the pond.So once again blaming the mother for not properly taking care of herself on her child being Autistic.Find what causes Autism before putting out just another theory.Why with all the millions of dollars that go into research cant we find the reason without pointing fingers.

    • magda
      October 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      There is not just one reason because there is not just one autism. its a whole spectrum. no two autistic children are the same. Autism can be caused by many different factors all at once. they are not blaming women. they just want us to know that folic acid is important.

  12. Katie Wright
    October 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I also took folic acid prenatally. But I have also read that TOO much folic acid could also be triggering immune problems.

    Prenatal folic acid is all well and nice but 25 yrs ago practically no women took prenatal vitamins and there was 1,000% less autism than today. Please – how many of our mothers drank or smoked during their pregnancies? It was fairly common. Still almost no autism then.

    I worry we are afraid to research the big items and are obsessing on so many small issues instead.

  13. October 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Katie,

    I hope you can remember that Dr. Spock was recommending meat, milk, and eggs from 1946 thru the mid 1970s during which time the incidence of autism was quite low. He also recommended beginning solid foods with one to two egg yolks at three to four months of age. If you remember, it was in the early 1960s that we were told by medical professionals to avoid eggs, meats, or other sources of animal fats. Not just autism but most other chronic disorders have been increasing ever since. I predict that prevention of autism will come from ensuring parents understand what a truly healthy diet consists of. I can assure you that it will not be a diet low in fat and missing the more nutritious foods such as whole milk, meats, and regular eggs. , .

  14. sammy
    October 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    balogni………there is MOUNTIANS of evidence to the contrary….folic acid causes not prevents. Shuts down one carbon met,dismyelinates brain interferes with nutrition of spinal column in celiacs , causes brain lesions in celiacs. DEPLETES B-12 ……way to keep your org open and colloecting cash.

  15. Edna
    October 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I TOOK FOLIC ACID EVERY DAY, TOOK PRENATAL VITS, AND DID EVERYTHING EXACTLY THE SAME WAY I DID DURING MY OTHER PREGNANCIES AND MY SON HAS SEVERE LANGUAJE DELAY AMONG OTHER DEVELOPMETAL ISSUES. HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH GDD

  16. October 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I acomforting st the most ttended an Autism info Seminar last weekend (it was SUPER!) And one of the statements made by a Keynote Speaker was that NONE OF US DID ANYTHING WRONG AS MOMS! We all take extra special care of ourselves and do whatever we can to assist our children as they grow to reach those milestones. There are studies as to the validity of this AND to the contrary also. I think everyone is looking for that magic answer. All I know is EARLY TREATMENT is the best help! And the realization that we are all in this together & it helps if we can talk to each other and support each other, it REALLY HELPS! Sammy; Thank Goodness we have someone so knows the correct answers to all causes of Autism on here to comment! Rude! And just so you know the Seminar I attended was provided to me at NO COST plus FREE BABYSITTING thanks to this organization & a few others!

  17. October 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I was on even BETTER vitamins than prenatal which included the recommended amount of folic acid from the March of Dimes for at least a year before I was pregnant and through at least the point postpartum when my midwife suggested I could take regular vitamins, but alas, these WERE my regular vitamins. She kept me on these vitamins versus prenatals because they were much better, like I said.

  18. December 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    So, it looks like if you don’t use fortified flours or take supplements for folic acid, you could become deficient. But, aren’t there foods to eat that would give a person sufficient folic acid without having to use fortified flours or supplements? Apparently beans, greens, and fortified grain products (cereal, bread, flour) are good sources. And, it’s not only good for babies but for older people too. We all need folic acid.

    • December 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      A little review may help.
      In the early 1960’s the FDA and the USDA recommended folic should be adequate for pregnant moms in the foods you discuss and they recommended. In about 1983 a European study reported that availability of folic acid from foods was found to be lacking causing spina bifida in many children and recommended fortifying with supplemental folic acid. Studies were iniatiated in the US but it was not until 1991 that the FDA started recommending folic acid supplements. The recommended level of from 400 to 800 units per day appears quite safe and has been shown to reduce the risk of spina bifida (or other disorders) by 50% or more according to the FDA report.

  19. Edna
    December 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I TOOK PRENATAL VITS AND FOLIC ACID BEFORE AND DURING ALL MY PREGNANCIES AND MY SON IS EXPERIENCEING SPEECH DELAY AND SOME AUTISTIC BEHAVIOR. TAKING FOLIC ACID DOES NOT GIVE YOU ANY CERTAINTY

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