Autism Signs and Symptoms Infographic

Research indicates that women that take the recommended daily dose of folic acid, which is the synthetic kind of folate or vitamin B-9, in the 1st month of being pregnant, could have a lower risk of having a child with autism.

A previous study revealed that women taking prenatal vitamins at about the time of conception have got a reduced risk of having a child with autism. It was sought in the current research to find out if it was the folic acid in those supplements that was the cause of the reduced risk. The results suggest that women who are trying to become pregnant as well as those who have already conceived should consider taking folic acid supplements.

It was found that women who took the recommended amount of 600 micrograms of folic acid each day throughout the 1st month of pregnancy had a lower risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder, particularly if the mother and/or her child had a specific genetic variant which is connected to less effective metabolism of folate.

Folic acid protects against embryonic brain development problems by facilitating DNA methylation reactions which can bring about changes in how the genetic code is read. A sufficient methyl donor supply like folic acid may be particularly crucial in the time period close to conception, at the time that the DNA methylation road map is defined.

Information was collected for the study from about 835 mothers of children having autism, developmental delay or typical development.

Average daily folic acid intake was evaluated based on the amount as well as the frequency of dietary supplements consumed containing folic acid, and also the food supplemented with folic acid consumed. Data was collected for the period of time when the women had been pregnant as well as the 3 months prior to becoming pregnant.

The research discovered that mothers of normally developing children reported more than average folic acid intake, and had been more likely to fulfill intake recommendations throughout the 1st month of pregnancy compared to mothers of children having autism spectrum disorder. It was found that as the amount of folic acid taken increased, so autism risk decreased. The mothers of the children that had developmental delay tended to have a lower estimated intake of folic acid in comparison to mothers of normally developing children throughout the 3 months prior to pregnancy.

Mothers of children that were developing typically reported the consumption of an average of 779 micrograms folic acid each day and 69% of them fulfilled the daily recommendations. The mothers of infants with autism had an average of 655 micrograms of folic acid daily. 54 % of them had the recommended 600 micrograms or more daily

Taking supplemental folic acid prior to as well as during early pregnancy has been advised for decades, soon after research confirmed its potential to prevent up to 70% of neural tube defects, as well as improper formation of the embryonic spinal cord and brain. The protective effect of folic acid on neural tube defects was also stronger when the MTHFR 677 C>T gene variant was present. Early maternal supplementation of folic acid has also been shown to improve other attention, social and behavioral outcomes in the developing child.

Autism Signs and Symptoms Infographic

Autism Signs and Symptoms Infographic

Image Source: The Puzzle Place

References: doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.110.004416