Pregnancy
Resources
Basic InformationLatest News
Diabetes, High Blood Pressure While Pregnant Spells Trouble Later OnHospital Midwives, Lower C-Section Rates?Breathing Dirty Air May Raise Miscarriage RiskPsychostimulant Use Tied to Placental ComplicationsWeighing Too Much or Too Little When Pregnant Can Be RiskyPrenatal Exposure to ADHD Meds Tied to Neonatal MorbidityProlonged Breast-Feeding May Guard Against Teen EczemaEclampsia Tied to Increased Relative Risk of Seizure DisorderInfo Via Social Media Apps May Increase Vaccine AcceptanceBreast-Feeding Bond Lingers for MomEven Partial Breast-Feeding for First Few Months Lowers SIDS Risk3D Ultrasound Not Accurate for ID of Sex in First TrimesterDoctors Urged to Discuss Cord Blood Donations Early in PregnancyAcetaminophen in Pregnancy Tied to ADHD Risk in KidsRecommendations Developed for Trial of Labor After C-SectionOb/Gyns Warn Against 'Vaginal Seeding' Trend for NewbornsSummer Baby, Higher Odds for Postpartum Depression?Incision Length Linked to Pain After CesareanMore Vaginal Births With Lying Down in Second Stage of LaborWomen Falling Short on Birth Defect PreventionBlack Women Face Double the Risk of Pregnancy-Related Heart FailureStudy Debunks Notion That Epidurals Prolong Labor3-D Ultrasound IDs Late-Onset Fetal Growth RestrictionMaternal Multivitamin Use Tied to Lower Risk of Child ASDAntibody Injections in Pregnancy Might Shield Fetus From ZikaSame Pregnancy Meds Can Cost $200 -- or $11,000Tdap Given in Pregnancy Protects Infants From PertussisStudy Questions Practice of Placenta Eating by New MomsWhooping Cough Shot Works, But Many Moms-to-Be Skip It: CDCHigh Blood Pressure in Pregnancy May Boost Child's Obesity RiskIUD Won't Interfere With Breast-FeedingPost-C-Section Cephalexin, Metronidazole Cuts SSI RateCGM Use in Pregnancy Improves Neonatal OutcomesEarly Onset of Pregnancy Complication May Raise Heart RisksPanic Disorder, GAD Not Linked to Adverse Pregnancy OutcomesDoes Mother's Mental Health Affect Pregnancy?Is an Occasional Drink OK During Pregnancy?Risk of Prematurity, SGA Up for Women on Antiepileptic DrugsCould Folic Acid Fight a Cause of Autism?Researchers Find Genes Linked to Preterm BirthHealth Tip: Suggestions for New MomsMom-to-Be's Cellphone May Not Harm Fetal BrainDoes Immune System Hold Clues to Preterm Births?Clinicians Urged to Heighten Alert for Perinatal Suicide Risk1 in 5 Moms Mum About Post-Pregnancy BluesSuicide a Danger for Some Women During Pregnancy: StudyAnti-Vaccine Info in Pregnancy May Delay Infant ImmunizationZika Hijacks Pregnant Woman's Immune SystemSmoking During Pregnancy Up Among Women With DepressionWound Complication Rate for C-Section Varies With Suture Type
Questions and AnswersLinksBook ReviewsSelf-Help Groups
Related Topics

Could Folic Acid Fight a Cause of Autism?

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Sep 8th 2017

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Sept. 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- By taking folic acid around the time of conception, mothers-to-be may reduce their child's risk of pesticide-related autism, a new study suggests.

"We found that if the mom was taking folic acid during the window around conception, the risk associated with pesticides seemed to be attenuated," said study first author Rebecca Schmidt.

"Mothers should try to avoid pesticides. But if they live near agriculture, where pesticides can blow in, this might be a way to counter those effects," said Schmidt. She is an assistant professor of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis.

It's estimated that one in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder, which can range from mild to severe. There is no single cause, but research suggests a combination of genetic and environmental influences plays a role, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The new study included about 300 children aged 2 to 5 with autism and 220 without the developmental disorder. Children whose mothers took 800 or more micrograms of folic acid (the amount in most prenatal vitamins) had a much lower risk of developing autism, even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides, the researchers said.

Autism risk was higher among children whose mothers were repeatedly exposed to pesticides or whose mothers had low folic acid intake and exposure to agricultural pesticides between three months preconception and three months afterward, the findings showed.

Those two factors combined were associated with higher risk of autism than either low folic acid intake or pesticide exposure alone, Schmidt said in a university news release.

"The mothers who had the highest risk were the ones who were exposed to pesticides regularly," she added.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9, found in supplements and fortified foods. While taking it reduced the associated risk of pesticide-related autism in children, it did not entirely eliminate it, the report noted.

"It would be better for women to avoid chronic pesticide exposure if they can while pregnant," Schmidt said.

Folic acid plays a critical role in DNA repair and synthesis, and in determining which genes are turned on or off, said Schmidt. "These are all really important during periods of rapid growth when there are lots of cells dividing, as in a developing fetus. Adding folic acid might be helping out in a number of these genomic functions," she added.

The study doesn't show a causal link, and there are limitations. For one, participants relied on their memory to report folic acid intake and household pesticide exposure.

The study was published Sept. 8 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has more about autism.