Study: Folic acid linked to lower risk of autism - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Study: Folic acid linked to lower risk of autism

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Danesha Smith is 11 weeks pregnant with her second child.

"I feel great. A lot of energy, it's just been a wonderful experience," she said.

She takes a prenatal multivitamin with folic acid. A large, new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 85,000 children in Norway. Researchers found mothers who took folic acid supplements before they conceived and during the first two months of their pregnancy lowered their chances of having a child with autism 39 percent.

"It will lead to new ideas and new... potentially new ways to prevent autistic disorders," said Dr. Robert Berry of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Folic acid is already known to reduce the risk of brain and spine birth defects like spina bifida.

"It is not in any way dangerous to the patient. It is not costly. It is part of the standard of care, regardless, so we would definitely recommend it," said Dr. Maria Constantini-Ferrando of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey.

Doctors recommend pregnant women or women who are actually trying to become pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day, the amount typically found in a prenatal multivitamin.

Smith has been taking folic acid supplements since she started trying to get pregnant with her first child.

"We put a lot of focus on healthiness, being healthy, taking the right vitamins, eating well," Smith said.

She's also trying to get more sleep and cut down on stress.

The study did not find a link between folic acid and Asperger's syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum and affects older children. Children in the study were between 3 and 10, so more children could be diagnosed with Asperger's as they get older.

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