Can You Protect Your Child From Autism With Supplements?

We may be able to reduce our children’s chance of getting autism if we take folic acid supplements before becoming pregnant, suggests a study. The research was carried out by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the results show folic acid may do more than prevent spinal issues in babies.

Pregnancy supplements

Folic acid has proved so important to our wellness that several countries across the world routinely include it in bread products to boost their population’s intake of the nutrient. As pregnant women in the UK, we’re also advised to take it before we fall pregnant and to continue taking it into early pregnancy to cut spina bifida rates. Now the research suggests the supplement can also reduce autism rates in our children.

The research

Scientists looked at the health records of 85,176 children over a six-year period to establish links between their mothers’ folic acid intake and the children’s rates of autism. The condition can affect how we communicate and interpret the world. The study found that women who took folic acid supplements four weeks before they were pregnant and for eight weeks after were 40 per cent less likely to have a child diagnosed with autism (rather than the related Asperger’s syndrome). Interestingly, the research linked decreased rates of autism with folic acid supplements, but not via folic acid found in food/diet. Other supplements were also not linked with a decrease in rates of the condition.

Folic acid for all?

The UK has yet to add folic acid to flour like some other countries have done. The researchers explain that although a link has been found between decreased autism rates and folic acid, they are unsure of why this occurs. They add that the nutrient appears to have a greater impact on the health of our nervous system than previously thought, and this means further investigations could prove fruitful. Meanwhile, our GPs and midwives are available to give us health advice and tips throughout pregnancy.


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