We all already know about the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to reduce the risk of brain and spinal cord (neural tube) birth defects. But a new study has found yet another crucial reason this vitamin should be part of all pregnant women’s diets: Taking extra folic acid in the weeks before and just after becoming pregnant lowers the risk of autism in offspring.
Kind of a big deal.
Compared with women not using folic supplements, those taking a folic acid supplement from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after conception were less likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism.
These findings highlight the importance of taking folic acid before even getting pregnant. In fact, according to MedPage Today, the study reemphasizes the importance of taking this crucial vitamin for “women who are of reproductive age and can become pregnant.”
And while taking folic acid during pregnancy is well understood, it seems “the message for folic acid before pregnancy has been a little bit lost,” according to researchers from the University of California, who go on to say that even “if you are not just planning a pregnancy, but able to get pregnant, then you should be taking some sort of folic acid supplement.”
The study followed 85,000 women and their children, born between 2002 and 2008. What researchers found was that one in 1,000 babies born to women who reported taking folic acid early in pregnancy had autism, compared to about two in 1,000 of those whose moms didn’t take folic acid.
So swallow those little pills down, ladies! And if you want to add more folic acid into your diet, check out these 8 high-in-folic-acid foods!
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make A Right.