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Folic acid lowers risk of autistic child

Folic acid supplements during early pregnancy could reduce risk of having a child with autism, says a study by Norwegian scientists.

world Updated: Feb 14, 2013 00:39 IST

Folic acid supplements during early pregnancy could reduce risk of having a child with autism, says a study by Norwegian scientists.

Women who took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy almost halved the risk of having a child with autism. Beginning to take folic acid supplements later in pregnancy did not reduce the risk. This is shown in new findings from the ABC Study and Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA).

Women who took folic acid supplements from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into pregnancy had a 40% lower risk of giving birth to children with childhood autism (classic autism). Use of folic acid supplements midway through pregnancy (week 22) had no effect.

"Tthe reduced risk of childhood autism only reflects folic acid supplements, not food or other supplements, and that the crucial time interval is from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into pregnancy," said the study author.