May 12, 2016 – Folic Acid Intake During Pregnancy Linked To Autism In Children – New Study
Pregnant mothers taking too much folic acid have been linked to possibly having children with autism. Pregnant women who overdose on folic acid (folate and vitamin B12) while trying to heed health advice may increase the risk of autism in their babies.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that involves abnormal development and function of the brain. People with autism show decreased social communication skills and restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviours or interests. Autism is a ‘spectrum’ condition with a wide range of severity that impairs an individual’s ability to communicate and interact socially.
Both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role in its development. Research has shown taking too many folate supplements may double the chance of a mother’s child developing the developmental disorder, according to scientists.
Very high vitamin B12 levels were also said to be potentially harmful, tripling the likelihood of autism. Excess levels of both nutrients boosted the risk level 17.6 times. According to a report in mailonline, the findings of the researchers will be presented at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research that will take place in Baltimore, Maryland, United States (U.S).
A former President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Olumide Akintayo, a pharmacist, while noting that too much of everything was bad, urged consumers in the country to stick to their daily recommended dose, which is about 5mg. “Our experience has shown that at that dose, the therapeutic window is very broad.”
He added, “in other words, the safety margin is wide. If you are using it at the right dose.” A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said: ‘Folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy has been proven to dramatically reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, which causes lifelong disability, and anencephaly, a fatal condition where the baby’s brain and skull do not form properly.
“We would absolutely advise women who are planning pregnancies to continue to take folic acid supplements, with the current recommendation to continue with these up until the 12th week of pregnancy.’
Women are advised to take supplements of folic acid, the synthetic version of the B vitamin folate, during early pregnancy to reduce the risk of disabling or fatal birth defects such as spina bifida. (Spina bifida is part of a group of birth defects called neural tube defects.)