Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Folic Acid Linked to Lower Autism Risk

A study of 85,176 Norwegian children finds that women who took folic acid supplements beginning a month before conception through eight weeks into pregnancy had a 40 percent lower risk of giving birth to children with autism.

Folic acid has long been recommended for women who may become pregnant because it reduces the risk of neural tube defects in their babies.

Among children whose mothers took folic acid, only 0.10 percent (64/61,042) were diagnosed with autistic disorder, compared to 0.21 percent (50/24,134) among those whose mothers did not take folic acid, wrote Pål Surén, M.D., M.P.H., of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, in the February 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Use of folic acid did not have an effect on rates of other autism spectrum disorders. Starting folic acid supplements midway through pregnancy had no effect, and there was no correlation with maternal intake of folate through food.

“The study does not prove that folic acid supplements can prevent childhood autism,” said Surén, in a statement. “However, the findings are so apparent that they constitute a good argument to further examine possible causal mechanisms.”

For more in Psychiatric News about risk factors for autism, click here.

(Image: Rob Hyrons/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.