(HealthDay News) — Multivitamin supplementation during pregnancy is tied to a reduced risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with intellectual disability, according to a study published online Oct. 4 in BMJ.

Elizabeth A. DeVilbiss, Ph.D., from Drexel University in Philadelphia, and colleagues performed an observational prospective cohort study in which they used population registries to identify 273,107 mother-child pairs with children born between 1996 and 2007.

The researchers found that the prevalence of ASD with intellectual disability was 0.26 percent in the maternal multivitamin use group and 0.48 percent in the no nutritional supplementation use group. Lower odds of ASD with intellectual disability were seen in the maternal multivitamin use group with or without additional iron or folic acid or both compared with mothers who did not use multivitamins, iron, and folic acid (odds ratio 0.69; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.57 to 0.84). In propensity score matched (odds ratio, 0.68; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.54 to 0.86) and sibling control matched (odds ratio, 0.77; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.52 to 1.15) analyses, similar results were seen.

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“Further scrutiny of maternal nutrition and its role in the cause of autism is recommended,” conclude the authors.

Abstract/Full Text