Women taking prenatal vitamins at the start of their pregnancy could lower the risk of autism on their child especially among high risk populations.
A new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry showed stronger evidence of less recurrence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in siblings of affected children by 50 percent.
Earlier findings approved that folic acid supplements is associated with reduced risk of ASD in the unborn child. However, studies have not explored into the effects of prenatal vitamins on the siblings of children with ASD.
Lead author Rebecca Schmidt from the University of California, Davis focused on high risk families so as not to recruit a large number of cases to track.
Children, whose older sibling has ASD, face as 12-fold higher risk than the general population at 19 percent to 24 percent. Siblings of children with ASD have higher risks of attention deficit, intellectual disability, and language delay.
Most mothers took prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, but only 87 out of 231 reported taking it six months prior to conception. More than half took their prenatal supplements during the first month of pregnancy.
“Maternal daily intake of prenatal vitamins during the first month of pregnancy appears to be associated with reductions in recurrence of autism in high-risk families,” the authors reported.
Folate or vitamin B9 is an important component in the production of red blood cells for healthy cell function. It is crucial to prevent or reduce the risk of brain and spinal defects of the developing fetus.
Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, and peas are rich in vitamin B9. Fortified foods such as cereals and pastas are good source of folic acid.
Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is recommended at least three months before conception. The daily recommended dose of folic acid for pregnancy is greater than or equal to 600 micrograms.
“Considering the potential for greater genetic susceptibility in these families, these findings, if replicated, imply that susceptibility could potentially be overcome by environmental manipulation,” the researchers concluded.