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Folic Acid Decreases Autism Risk by 40%

The numbers of children born with autism spectrum disorder continues to grow worldwide. A new study out of Norway has found a simple solution that can help cut potential risk by 40% in some cases. The new study followed 85,000 children and mothers between 2002 and 2008. During this time period, expectant mothers were asked to fill-out a questionnaire regarding prenatal supplement use. The study found that women who took folic acid supplements at least 4-weeks before conception to 8-weeks into gestation were 27% less likely to give birth to a baby with an autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the babies who received the folic acid supplements during the established time period, had a 40% less risk of diagnosis of autism later in life. However, mothers who started folic acid supplements at the 22-week mid-mark showed no decreased risk. Autism is a broad disorder, in fact, many health experts call it a group of disorders that share common symptoms and presentation. However, each spectrum of the disorder affects children differently. There are kids with severe autism who don’t speak or communicate and there are cases of Asperberger’s Syndrome where kids grow up to lead regular lives with careers. The study did not identify if it reduced risks of particular spectrum disorders, just a general decline in all autism syndromes. Folic acid, which is found in many green veggies including broccoli, romaine lettuce, spinach, and even in the non-green peanut, is essential to fetal development. Folic acid synthesizes and repairs DNA, it is an essential B Vitamin of the body. As DNA is the building blocks of life, folic acid supports fetal development in the earliest of stages, making it important to start taking supplements even before conception. Yet, according to the March of Dimes, two-thirds of women are unaware of the need to take-in folic acid during gestation. There have been many changes in our society over the years that could attribute to the rising number of autism cases. As we have progressed we rely less on fruits and vegetables for sustenance and our growing obesity problem is most likely not helping either. While many foods are fortified with folic acid, it is essential that pregnant women take in supplements. Many environmental factors play a role in autism risk, but starting at the basis with what we put in our bodies can help make a huge difference in the lives of future children. Sources: USA Today - Health & Wellness - Time - Health & Family - Huff Post - Parents -
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