Maternal Folic Acid/Multivitamin Use and Autism Risk: What's the Link?

Autism spectrum disorder risk lower in those whose moms took supplements before, while pregnant
Autism spectrum disorder risk lower in those whose moms took supplements before, while pregnant

HealthDay News — The risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is reduced in offspring with maternal exposure to folic acid and multivitamin supplementation before and during pregnancy, according to a study published online January 3 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Stephen Z. Levine, PhD, from the University of Haifa in Israel, and colleagues conducted a case-control cohort study involving 45,300 Israeli children born between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2007, who were followed for ASD from birth to Jan. 26, 2015. 

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The researchers found that 1.3% of the 45,300 children in the study received a diagnosis of ASD. There was a statistically significant association for maternal exposure to folic acid and/or multivitamin supplements before pregnancy with reduced likelihood of ASD in offspring compared with no exposure before pregnancy (relative risk, 0.39). Compared with no exposure during pregnancy, maternal exposure to folic acid and/or multivitamins during pregnancy was associated with lower likelihood of ASD in offspring (relative risk, 0.27). The relative risks were 0.56, 0.32, 0.36, and 0.35 for maternal exposure to folic acid before and during pregnancy and for maternal exposure to multivitamin supplements before and during pregnancy, respectively.

"Maternal exposure to folic acid and multivitamin supplements before and during pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of ASD in the offspring compared with the offspring of mothers without such exposure," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text