Too much folate during pregnancy increases autism risk

Too much folate during pregnancy increases autism risk

Too much folate during pregnancy increases autism risk

Too much folate during pregnancy increases autism risk, according to new research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Women who are planning on becoming pregnant are usually advised to have good amounts of folate in the diet. However, the researchers found that having too much folate during pregnancy increases autism risk.

The research showed that when women had too much folate in their system — over four times more than recommended — the risk of the child developing autism doubles.

Very high vitamin B12 levels in new mothers may have harmful effects too, as it can triple the risk of the child developing autism. If folate and B12 levels are both high, autism risk increases 17.6 times.

Adequate supplementation is protective: That’s still the story with folic acid,” says M. Daniele Fallin, PhD, director of the Bloomberg School’s Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. “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.”

With many supplements, the common belief has been that excess is not harmful, and that the body will get rid of what is not needed. However, according to the authors, this may not be true with folate and B12.

This research suggests that this could be the case of too much of a good thing,” says study lead author Ramkripa Raghavan, MPH, MSc, a DrPH candidate in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School. “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.”

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders. This disorder is characterized by social impairments, trouble with communication, and restricted, repetitive stereotyped patterns of behavior. According to the National Institutes of Health, experts estimate that 1 out of 88 children will have autism spectrum disorder.

Please talk to your health practitioner or physician to find out what your nutrition plan should be if you are planning on becoming pregnant.

The study showing that too much folate during pregnancy increases autism risk, according to new research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. will be presented at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore.

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REFERENCES:
1. “Autism Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
2. “Too Much Folate in Pregnant Women Increases Risk for Autism, Study Suggests.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.

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