Overdose of folic acid during pregnancy, may increase the risk of autism

A new research has shown the evidence that over-consumption of folate and vitamin B12 by pregnant women may increase the risk of autism in their infant.

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins University discovered that overdose of folate supplements may double the chances of a mother’s child developing the developmental disorder. They also noted that vitamin B12 may increase the risk of autism by three times.

The researchers noted that high levels of both nutrients increased the risk level 17.6 times.

However, the study has not yet been verified by the other scientists. Many scientists have criticized the study and warned the pregnant women to treat this new study with utmost caution.

Currently, pregnant women are advised by the doctors to take supplements of folic acid during early pregnancy, which is a synthetic version of the B vitamin folate. These supplements decrease the risk of disabling or fatal birth defects such as spina bifida.

But the new study from the United States recommends that the pregnant women should take extra care while taking supplements of folate and B12.

Experts on Folic Acid

The lead researcher of the study and also director of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School’s Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Daniele Fallin said, “Adequate supplementation is protective: that’s still the story with folic acid. We have long known that a folate deficiency in pregnant mothers is detrimental to her child’s development. But what this tells us is that excessive amounts may also cause harm. We must aim for optimal levels of this important nutrient.

Autism is a “spectrum” state with a wide range of severity that damages an individual’s ability to socialize. Both genetic and environmental elements are the reasons for the development autism.

During the research, scientists examined data from 1,391 mother-child pairs in the Boston Birth Cohort, which is mostly a low-income US population class.

Mothers, took part in the study between 1998 and 2013, had their blood folate levels examined once within the first three days after delivery.

Overdose of folic acid during pregnancy, may increase the risk of autism 2

One in 10 were noted to have extreme levels of folate, identified as more than 59 nanomoles per liter of blood plasma, which was connected with a doubling of autism risk.

Similarly, 6% had high levels of vitamin B12 which also boosted the chances of a baby developing the condition of autism. Researchers found that high levels of both nutrients increased the risk dramatically.

So much folate in the participated women’ bloodstreams remains a mystery, although several were consuming multivitamin supplements.

Researchers who presented their study at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore, US said that there is a possibility that they may have eaten too much folic acid-fortified food or have consumed too many supplements, or could have a genetic make-up that boosted folate absorption in their bodies.

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They said that there is more research required to give a clear idea of how much folate a pregnant woman should consume to provide her with best levels of the nutrient.

The lead researcher of the study from the Bloomberg School’s Department of Population Family and Reproductive Health, Ramkripa Raghavan said, “This research suggests that this could be the case of too much of a good thing. We tell women to be sure to get folate early in pregnancy. What we need to figure out now is whether there should be additional recommendations about just what an optimal dose is throughout pregnancy.”