June 11, 2012
DAVIS, Calif.Maternal intake of folic acid early in pregnancy has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of autism compared to women who did not get adequate amounts through food or supplements, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The findings suggest daily intake of 600 micrograms (g) of folic acid for the first month of pregnancy was associated with a 38% lower chance of having a child autism or Asperger's.
Researchers at the University of California Davis Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute investigated the association between maternal folic acid intake and the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delay (DD).
For the study, researchers surveyed mothers of 429 preschoolers with an autism spectrum disorder and 278 with normal development about their diet and supplement use before and during pregnancy who had enrolled in the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) Study from 2003 to 2009. Average daily folic acid was quantified for each mother on the basis of dose, brands, and intake frequency of vitamins, supplements and breakfast cereals reported through structured telephone interviews.
Results showed mothers of children without autism got more folic acid through fortified foods and vitamins during their pregnancies compared to those who had an autistic child. Results were the greatest in the first month of pregnancy, when mothers of normally-developing babies had an average daily intake of 779 gof folic acid daily, compared to an average 655 g in moms of autistic kids.
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