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Did You Know? Too Much Folic Acid Leads To An Increased Risk Of Autism

Friday, May 27, 2016

There are many old and traditional myths that are today considered as just the debunked mis-beliefs and advised not to practice them. Probably, because as the time changed, the way of living has been completely changed. Today, people are less prone to physical activities because of the constantly evolving digitization globally. It is known since decades, that pregnant women or the ones expecting to be pregnant should take enough folic acid to prevent certain type of birth defects in their babies. On the contrary, I’m going to discuss one such study that suggests high levels of folic acid consumption in pregnant women seems to be linked with an increased risk of autism in their children.

Folate is actually a natural B vitamin considered as the key element to the proper neurological development of babies; the supplement type of the folate vitamin is folic acid.

A few studies have connected folic acid deficiencies in early pregnancy to birth imperfections and a serious danger of autism spectrum disorder. On the other hand, another research points to an opposite relation between autism and folic acid, stating that adequate amount of folic vitamin during the conception may significantly reduce the risk of autism.

Certainly, there are some experts who raised questions related to the new research. They noticed that the findings were preliminary and conducted on a few number of families and only at one hospital. Additionally, the findings were based on the measures of the vitamin in mother’s blood during the time of delivery, which did not reveal the real situation about the women’s body at the time of early stages of foetal brain development. Even the researcher - M. Daniele Fallin of Johns Hopkins University agreed, that there are no requirements for changing the current health requirements or that they are not suggesting anyone to stop taking their supplements. Finally, the decision that more in-depth research is required takes place.

Folate is a vitamin found in foods which are important in the development of the nervous system and cell growth and it’s supplement; folic acid is used in fortifying flour and cereals. It was decades ago, that researchers found certain levels of folic acid may prevent the major birth deficiencies in the child’s brain and spine. Hence, they recommended to take 400 mg folic acid daily to the women wishing to get pregnant. And following this, in late 1990s, the federal regulations started mandating to add folic acid to the flour, bread and other grain items. These steps created great public health success stories. According to some officials, 1000 birth defects are prevented with this every year.

Moving ahead, some researchers followed 1,391 children born at Boston University Medical Center in 1998 through 2013, and found that about 100 of them were diagnosed of autism spectrum disorder. Looking back at the levels of folate and vitamin B12 in the blood samples of the babies’ mothers at the time of child birth, they found that 16 of them had much high levels of folate and 15 had very high levels of vitamin B12. Although smaller number of cases, they represented significantly higher in proportions than were found in moms whose babies didn’t developed autism. If both, folate and vitamin B12 levels are extremely high, there are more chances(upto 17 times) greater risk that the baby will have autism - researchers said.

Some women have high levels of both the elements in their blood. It may be related to consuming too many supplements and eating too many fortified foods or due to a genetic reason or a combination of both. But, the researchers noted that the children prone to autism were mainly from the lower-income and minority families.
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