Health News and Research

Autism: What role does folic acid?

An important role as researchers emphasize, as it could help reduce up to 40% risk of autism spectrum disorders, which are known to be hereditary but development is unknown. A decrease, according to survey results, is especially significant when the mother brings to their diet folic acid before and during pregnancy, between 4 weeks before and up to 2 months after the start of pregnancy.


It is not the first time that emphasizes the importance of folic acid during pregnancy, among others as the best guard against spina bifida and other neural tube defects in newborns. This time, the interest of researchers lies in the role it plays in the development of autism.

And according to a new study, conducted in Norway, folic acid, in particular prenatal supplements (vitamin B9) could help reduce up to 40% chance of developing autism spectrum disorders.

The folic acid reinforces its preventive role, being essential for the repair and synthesis of DNA. In its natural form (folate) can be found in a number of foods such vegetables (leafy), legumes such as lentils or peas, yeast, eggs and liver. In some countries, as stated in the study, folic acid is incorporated to the flour, making this supplement is provided directly to the consumer. This is the case of the United States or Canada, although if it is recommended that the consumption of folic acid in women who are trying to be mothers and during the initial stages of the pregnancy.

However, even during pregnancy folic acid is essential, both studies conducted in countries of America and Europe have found that most women who are pregnant do not get the necessary amounts of folate, staying below the recommended quantities.

The results reported in the new study that explores the relationship between folic acid and autism spectrum disorders have been achieved by reference to the survey data MOBA (Norwegian Mother & Child Cohort Study) and birth cohort study of autism. More than 85,000 babies, born between 2002 and 2008, participated in the study, which also analyzed the prenatal eating habits.

At the conclusion of the study had identified 270 diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, atypical autism). The mothers from early pregnancy had taken folic acid supplements had a much lower risk, up to 40%, that their children developed autism. Specifically, the decrease was observed especially in cases where folic acid is incorporated into the diet from 4 weeks to two months before and after the start of pregnancy. It should be noted, though, that the reduction in risk was observed in cases of autistic disorder, but not in the other cases. A study opens a new avenue of research.