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HHS HealthBeat (March 1, 2013)

Folic acid and autism


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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

A study indicates that women who take folic acid from four weeks before becoming pregnant to eight weeks after have a lower risk of having a child with autism. The finding was in data on women and children in Norway. At the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, researcher Pal Suren:

“Mothers who took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy had a 40 percent reduction in the risk of having children with autism.”

The study can’t prove supplementation lowered the risk. But standard medical advice is for women who could become pregnant to get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily because it reduces the risks of some other birth defects that develop early in pregnancy.         

The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association had support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at healthfinder.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: March 21, 2013