March 22, 2019
pregnant woman taking vitamin
Health News

B Vitamin May Reduce Autism Risk

by Berkeley Wellness  

Women who take folic acid supplements before or after becoming pregnant may have a reduced risk of having a child with autism, according to a large observational study from Israel in JAMA Psychiatry in February 2018. Folic acid is the form of the B vitamin folate used in supplements and fortified foods.

The researchers found that women who took the supplements (or a multivitamin, which also supplies folic acid) before conception or during pregnancy were less than half as likely to have children with autism spectrum disorder as non-users.

A Norwegian study in the Journal of the American Medical Associationin 2013 had similar results. These observational studies could only find associations, not establish causality (clinical trials comparing folic acid to aplacebo would not be ethical because of the vitamin’s proven ability to prevent neural tube birthdefects).

Pregnant women, as well as those who may become pregnant, have long been advised to consume 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid a day to prevent birth defects. The daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 400 micrograms, the amount in most multivitamins; 600 micrograms for pregnant women.

Also see Folate: Nutritional Chameleon? and Antidepressants During Pregnancy and Autism: Is There a Link?