Entries in Folic Acid (3)


Prenatal Vitamins a Must for Kate Middleton

Samir Hussein/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- All pregnant women should take a prenatal vitamin, but it’s particularly important for someone like Kate Middleton, who has struggled to keep food down.

“Prenatals help to cover any areas of a mommy-to-be’s diet where she may not be eating important nutrients that are needed for baby’s development,” said pharmacist Sarah G. Khan of

Khan said a good prenatal pill should contain three big nutrients: folic acid, iron, and DHA/EPA.  She also recommended that all pregnant women take an additional calcium and vitamin D supplement because the fetus steals calcium from the mom to construct its skeleton.

A new JAMA report also highlighted the importance of prenatal folic acid. 

Using data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, researchers found that mothers who took folic acid four weeks before and eight weeks after pregnancy had a 40 percent reduced risk of giving birth to a child with autism.  That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that folic acid taken during pregnancy will result in fewer autism cases.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Folic Acid Before Pregnancy Linked to Lower Autism Risk, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Folic acid has been recommended to pregnant women for years, usually as a way to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.

But a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found it may also prevent autism.

The JAMA study, which used data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, found that mothers who took folic acid four weeks before and eight weeks after pregnancy had a 40 percent reduced risk of giving birth to a child with autism. While the researchers found an association between folic acid deficiency and autism, that does not mean that folic acid taken during pregnancy would result in fewer autism cases.

The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study followed more than 85,000 babies born between 2002 and 2008, and their parents. About 270 babies whose parents participated in the study were born with a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum.

Mothers reported whether they were taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy before they found out whether their children had autism, which eliminated some potential bias, said molecular epidemiologist Rebecca Schmidt, a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. In 2011, Schmidt was one of the first scientists to publish a study that found that autism arises because of both genetic and external factors, including women’s prenatal vitamin intake before conception.

“Given the replication of findings showing reduced risk of autism associated with folic acid supplements taken near conception, more research is needed to investigate whether this association is casual,” she said. “Interestingly, both studies reported...a nearly 40 percent reduction in risk for autism.”

The number of children with autism spectrum disorders in the United States rose to one in 88 in 2012, up from one in 110 in 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior medical contributor to ABC News, said she tries to help the patients in her OB/GYN practice to weigh the benefits and risks of things that might affect their pregnancies, such as medications, chemical exposure, or consuming certain foods. She said she knows from her own pregnancy how confusing and frightening it can be, and she aims to alleviate some of that by reassuring mothers that fetuses are resilient.

“Society can sometimes do a really good job of laying blame and guilt, and when there is no medical proof that it is the mother’s fault,” Dr. Ashton said.  “I usually tell women pregnancy is no different than parenting.  There are never 100 percent guarantees of anything.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Folic Acid in Pregnancy Cuts Risk of Language Delay

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OSLO, Norway) -- Taking extra folic acid in the weeks leading up to and just following getting pregnant could reduce the risk of the child having severe language delay, according to new research from Norway.

The study tracked the use of folic acid supplements and other supplements in nearly 40,000 expectant women and their children and found that those women who took folic acid in the four weeks prior to and eight weeks after conception had children who were about half as likely to experience severe language delay at age 3.  Toddlers who could only speak in one word or unintelligible utterance were rated as having severe language delay.

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a type of vitamin B found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans, and liver.  Folic acid is an essential vitamin the body needs for proper functioning, particularly during the first few weeks of life.

Folic acid is known to be an important prenatal nutrient and has been tied to reduced birth defects and a lowered risk of premature birth when taken by expectant mother.  This study is the first to suggest that this nutrient is specifically related to severe language delay.

“If in future research this relationship were shown to be causal, it would have important implications for understanding the biological processes underlying disrupted neurodevelopment, for the prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders, and for policies of folic acid supplementation for women of reproductive age,” study author Christine Roth of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, writes.

The study was published Tuesday in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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