Folic Acid May Increase the Risk of Autism in Newborns

by Daniel Barna

Alarms sounded after a recent study suggested taking too much of the nutrient folate during pregnancy leads to a higher risk of autism at birth.

But some scientists have already rebuked the study's, which sampled blood from nearly 1400 mothers two to three days after they gave birth. The original study discovered was 10% of the mothers tested were likely to give birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder due to extremely high levels of folate in their bloodstream.

And while the findings were troublesome, M. Daniele Fallin, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and one of the researchers of the study, insists that women should not eliminate folic acid entirely from their prenatal diets, but rather know the optimal dose.

“Some [folate] is a good thing. It does appear the levels in the body could get too high, and that would be a bad thing,” she explained.

Experts still recommend that pregnant women take folic acid to prevent early neural development defects like a splayed vertebral column, while some studies have even found that folic acid might even prevent autism in newborns.

One of the scientists who supports the intake of folate during pregnancy is Dr. Ginny Russell of the Child Health Group at the University of Exeter's Medical School, who said that studies like the one released “are based on correlations which do not prove causality and have not been replicated.”

“In this case, the study in question is not yet peer reviewed or published,” Russell argued. “I would urge caution when interpreting these results: More evidence is needed to support the findings before jumping to hasty conclusions.”

Raise your baby right with a copy of Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Fiveand tell us if the research above will affect your pregnancy supplement strategy.

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