Folic Acid and Autism

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Story Updated: Feb 14, 2013

Here in the United States, women thinking about having a baby are encouraged to take folic acid prior to conceiving to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

Now a large Norwegian study suggests folic acid supplements may also have a protective effect against autism.

It was proven that folic acid supplements around the time of pregnancy prevent neural tube defects.

The neural tube is the origin of the human brain in the fetus and closes very early in development and the neural tube defect is when this tube doesn't close properly.

The study included more than 85-thousand children born between 2002 and 2008. Researchers compared children whose mothers took folic acid supplements four weeks before...and eight weeks into their pregnancies with children whose mothers did not take the supplements.

A total of 270 children in the study were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

114 with autism

56 with Asperger syndrome

And 100 with PDD-NOS, Cached - SimilarYou +1'd this publicly. Undo which means a child exhibits some behaviors seen in autism, but doesn't meet the criteria for having an Autistic Disorder.

Looking more closely at the data, researchers discovered that moms who took folic acid early in pregnancy had a 39% lower risk of having a child with autistic disorder although no association was found with Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS

As always, it's important to talk to your doctor about prenatal vitamins with folic acid...before you get pregnant.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with news from today that can lead to healthy tomorrows.

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