The connection between folic acid and autism has attracted controversy in the past few years. While health professionals are well aware that folic acid is an essential component of prenatal care, excessively high levels of folate in the blood have been associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder. Despite these recent findings concerning excessive levels of folic acid and autism risk, health professionals unequivocally continue to recommend folic acid supplements for pregnant women, as well as women who are expecting to become pregnant.
Folic Acid and Autism Prevention
For individuals who are concerned about whether or not they should take folic acid supplements, a recent folic acid and autism study funded by the National Institutes of Health should put those concerns to rest. The study found that women who take prenatal folic acid supplements have a significantly lower risk of giving birth to a child that develops autism spectrum disorder.
Published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the folic acid autism study included 520 children between the ages of two and five, 300 of whom were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers analyzed data concerning maternal household pesticide exposure, folic acid and vitamin B intake, and proximity to agricultural spray that contained pesticides; exposure to pesticides, whether household or agricultural, is associated with an increased risk of having a child who develops autism spectrum disorder.
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