Common Vitamin Found to Reduce Autism Risk - FamilyEducation

Common Vitamin Found to Reduce Autism Risk

February 14,2013

Autism affects one in 88 children in the United States, so it's no wonder parents are always looking for ways to reduce their child's risk of being diagnosed.

A new Norwegian study has found that a common vitamin-- folic acid-- can help reduce an unborn child's risk of autism by nearly 40 percent when it is taken within the first few months of pregnancy.

The study found that women who took between 200 and 400 micrograms a day from up to one month before conception to two months after, had a 39 percent lower chance of their child having autism.

Although the findings are still in the preliminary stages, and scientists do not yet know how folic acid help protect against autism, the amount that needs to be taken for the protection, or if it needs to be taken as part of a prenatal multivitamin, but the findings are encouraging amid the skyrocketing autism rates every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending folic acid as part of a prenatal multivitamin regimen in the 1990s, since it was found to help protect against birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, including spina bifida. Since then, there has been a 26 percent decrease in spina bifida cases nationwide.

Although folic acid is not thought to be a magic pill that will guarantee protection against autism (genetics and environmental factors are also thought to play a role), it does serve as a precautionary step to help reduce an unborn child's odds of being diagnosed.

When did you start taking folic acid during your pregnancy. Do you find this study encouraging, or are autism rates too high to believe folic acid can really protect against it?