Folic Acid Reduces the Risk for Autism

by Rachel Burt, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Roswell OB/GYN………………………………….

A new study released from Norway, suggests a forty percent reduction in the risk for autism when women start taking folic acid supplementation at least 4 weeks prior to conception.  This study looked at 85,000 women and the effect of taking folic acid supplementation starting 4 weeks prior to conception and through at least the first 8 weeks of the pregnancy.  The study highlights the signficant impact on reduction of severe autism.  For many years, we have recommended our patients start taking folic acid supplementation 3 months prior to conception to help reduce the risk of spina bifida.  Many of our patients who come to us for preconception counseling leave our office with a prescription for prenatal vitamins that include folic acid.  However, over 40 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unintended.  The majority of these women do not discover they are pregnant until they have missed a period – often 4-6 weeks after their last cycle.  By the time these women come for an appointment in our office, we have missed the window of time when folic acid could help reduce autism.  With the release of this new data, I have started recommending all my patients of reproductive age take a daily multivitamin with at least 800 mcg of folic acid.  For more information regarding this study, please see the attached link below.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/02/13/171828067/folic-acid-for-pregnant-mothers-cuts-kids-autism-risk