A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionsuggests that pregnant women who take at least 600 milligrams per day of folic acid- in the first month of pregnancy – have a 38 percent lower chance of having a child with autism or Asperger’s.
Folic acid, the synthetic form of the B-vitamin folate, has been added to breakfast cereals and other grains in the United States since 1998 because of evidence showing deficiencies in pregnant women made it more likely their babies would have brain and spine birth defects.
Questions remain about whether a lack of the vitamin, or difficulty processing it, might increase the risk of mental retardation and certain developmental disorders as well.
Folate "becomes very critical in the early stages of life… as well as the first year of life, when basically the brain is establishing connections and functions," said Edward Quadros from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.
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