Do Vitamins Cause Autism
We know they are a good thing, these prenatal vitamins. We know the importance of folic acid in these prenatal vitamins, how this can prevent neural tube defects.
It was only this past January that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced during National Birth Defects Prevention Month that women should plan to get healthy before and during pregnancy, to increase the chances of having a healthy baby. Against the backdrop of National Folic Acid Awareness Week , the importance of adequate folic acid intake was encouraged.
But it has been in the last 48 hours that the lay media has raised questions about the intake of folic acid. As reported in the Los Angeles Times and many other news outlets, preliminary findings presented this week at a meeting of autism researchers may have expectant and expectant expectant mothers wondering whether they should fill that prescription for prenatal vitamins. The concerning finding, as presented by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at the International Meeting for Autism Research held in Baltimore this past week: women with high folic acid and vitamin B12 levels during pregnancy were 17.6 times more likely to have their children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
Tips For Choosing The Best Prenatal Vitamin
There are plenty of prenatal vitamin supplements on the market so how do you pick the best one? Your individual needs may differ, so its best to work directly with your doctor when deciding on the right prenatal vitamin for you.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you choose the best prenatal vitamin:
Taking Too Much Folic Acid During Pregnancy Is Risky
It’s super easy to consume more than the recommended amount of folic acidand that’s not a good thing. Here’s why it’s important to keep track of your folic acid intake during pregnancy.
By Rosie SchwartzOctober 9, 2019
If youre pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, youve no doubt heard that youshould be taking folic acid. Thats because its long been established that women who take folic acid supplements before getting pregnant and during pregnancy have a significantly lower chance of having a baby with neural tube defects like spina bifida.
However, recent research suggests that when it comes to folic acid, it may be possible to have too much of a good thing.
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Collection Storage Of Blood Serum Samples
The serum samples used in this study were obtained from the Northern Sweden Maternity Cohort founded in 1975 . The serum samples were routinely collected for testing of systemic infections and rubella IgG antibody titers at the first midwife visit at one of the more than 30 primary health care centers in Västerbotten County. The time point of the first visit is at the discretion of the patients and occurs in most cases between weeks 7 and 18 centering around week 14 . As we did not have access to the exact gestational age at blood sampling, we assigned all patients to week 14 . Samples were exposed to room temperature and initial storage in refrigerators at 4 °C at the primary care centers for variable periods and periodically shipped, frozen, to a central repository at Umeå University Hospital, where they are analyzed and the leftovers were stored at 20 °C .
Can Too Much Folic Acid Cause Autism
A 2011 study by C. Mary Bear et al., studied whether too much folic acid in utero or after birth could cause autism. The studys results were inconclusive and required further research, but it did note that not enough folic acid is proven to cause nervous tissue damage and therefore it suggested that too much folic acid could potentially cause nervous tissue damage associated with autism. It might be worth it to have your childs folic acid levels assessed via blood work to be sure he/she is receiving an appropriate dosage.
While further studies were suggested in 2011, there has not been any conclusive evidence yet published.
Ethics Approval And Consent To Participate
The study was approved by the Regional Ethics Board at Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden, 2013-06-18, Dnr 2013-66-31M. Through an information letter, written informed consent was obtained, and mothers gave permission for using stored early pregnancy blood samples for the purpose of the present study, and for collecting registered information.
What Are The Benefits Of Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Aside from aiding in your baby’s growth, particular supplements can lower the risk of certain conditions for both you and your baby. “Prenatal vitamins can help decrease your risk of nausea, birth defects, and preterm birth. These benefits are optimized when prenatal vitamins are started prior to conception,” says Dr. Woodus.
Supplemental folate , in particular, is very important. According to the CDC, it’s been shown to reduce neural tube defects in babies, which are conditions involving the baby’s brain and spine. Folic acid can also reduce the risk of autism spectrum disorders, research shows. When prenatal vitamins are taken three months before conception or during the first month of pregnancy, the risk of having a child with autism decreases even in genetically susceptible mothers and children, a study in the Journal of Epidemiology found.
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Which Autism Supplements Do Doctors Recommend Most Often For Children With Asd
A doctors first priority when recommending vitamin and mineral supplements is usually to identify gaps in the childs diet. Your childs pediatrician might ask you to keep a log of your childs eating for a week or two so that he/she can get an idea of what your child enjoys and what vitamins and minerals are present in those foods.
It can be helpful to write a list of foods your child dislikes and refuses to eat as well. This list might include textures, food groups, or flavors in addition to specific food items.
It is important to note that while some children may get plenty of vitamins A, E, D, and K, they are fat soluble vitamins, which means that if your child does not eat enough fat, he/she will not be able to absorb these vitamins. A child who eats a vegan or vegetarian diet may be lacking in B12 as it is found only in animal products.
Your childs pediatrician may try to incorporate lacking vitamins and minerals into your childs diet before going to a supplement as it is the way our bodies prefer to receive nutrition. However, when this is not possible, your pediatrician may prescribe vitamins in liquid, sublingual, chewable to swallowable pill form.
When Do I Need To Start Taking Prenatal Vitaminsand For How Long
Ideally, you should start as soon as you begin trying to conceive, Dr. Ruiz says. Your baby will need those extra nutrients from the moment of conception, Dr. Ruiz explains.
It’s best to make sure your system is well stocked for several months before you conceive, Dr. White adds. Continue to take them throughout your pregnancy and afterward, for as long as you’re breastfeeding, Dr. Ruiz advises.
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Mama Bird Prenatal Vitamin
These vitamins contain “methylated folate,” a buzzy word in this area. Folate is one of the most important vitamins in prenatal pills, but some women have a genetic condition that makes it hard for their bodies to convert the folic acid in most prenatals to the active form the body can use, Wright explains.
But there’s a catch: You won’t know if you have the condition unless you have genetic testing done. So, if you want to be super safe and cover all your bases, then a methylated version of folate might be worth the money. Still, she emphasizes that for the majority of women, the regular variety is just fine.
Is Autism Linked To A Vitamin Encouraged During Pregnancy
For decades, pregnant women and women who may become pregnant have been advised to take folic acid to help prevent certain birth defects.
But a new study suggests it may be possible to get too much of a good thing: Very high levels of the vitamin in mothers blood at the time of childbirth were linked to higher risk that their offspring would develop autism years later.
Other research points to an opposite relationship between folic acid and autism, showing that adequate amounts of the vitamin at the time of conception can significantly reduce the risk.
Indeed, some experts raised questions about the new research. They note that the findings are preliminary and based on a small number of families seen at only one hospital.
Also, the analysis is based on measures of the vitamin in mothers blood at the time of delivery, which may not reveal much about what was going on in the womens body at the time of early fetal brain development.
Even the researchers themselves said theres no reason to change established recommendations. We are not suggesting anyone stop supplementation, said one of the studys authors, M. Daniele Fallin of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. But it raises an intriguing question that should be explored in other research, she said. Two outside experts agreed.
Those are very few cases. But they represent significantly higher proportions than were seen in mothers whose children didnt develop autism.
What Do You Even Do With This Information
Half of pregnancies are unplanned, and in the case of some nutrients, such as folate, it is protective only if its taken right before and just after conception. When its best to take vitamin D is unclear, as is true for most other nutrients.
Additionally, many studies on prenatal nutrition contain a multitude of confounding or unmeasured variables. Scientists usually do everything they can to eliminate the impact of any confounding factor, such as maternal exercise, access to healthcare or a genetic predisposition, but it is not possible to eliminate every possibility. So any observational study on maternal nutrition and its link to autism comes with a big caveat: It cannot prove cause and effect.
Overall, there may be a non-causal association between prenatal vitamins and their protective effects. Research shows vitamins confer many benefits even when women take them for up to two years before getting pregnant: Women who take vitamins may be health-conscious in other ways.
Consulting with a physician is always best for each individual.
Originally published on Spectrum
Can Folic Acid Prevent Autism
A new study suggests taking multivitamins with folic acid before and during pregnancy may lower autism risks.
If you needed more reasons to be sure to take your prenatal vitamin, here’s another: Getting enough folic acid may help to prevent autism spectrum disorder in your child. A recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry found a link between the use of folic acid and multivitamin supplements by women before and during pregnancy, and a lower likelihood of ASD in their children.
The link between folic acid and the brain
The study followed over 45,000 Israeli children born between 2003 and 2007 from birth to 2015. At the end of the study period, 572 children had received an autism diagnosis. After looking at which moms took folic acid and/or multivitamins during pregnancy, the researchers found those who did had a 73 percent lower chance of their child having ASD. Taking the supplements before pregnancy was also effective in reducing risk.
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“The results of this study are quite significant,” Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Yale University, who was not involved in the study, tells Parents.com. “This recent Israeli paper confirms some previous data showing the reduction in risk of developing autism with folic acid supplementation.”
Avoid casting blame on moms
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The Best Supplements And Vitamins For Autism
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Many biomedical interventions call for changes in diet. Such changes include removing certain types of foods from a childs diet and using vitamin or mineral supplements. The CDC stresses that while remedies that work for one child may not work for another, dietary changes or supplements are a worthwhile option to explore.
A 2009 study by Allison E. Golnik and Marjorie Ireland that surveyed 539 physicians found that vitamin and mineral supplements were one of the most widely recommended medical interventions for autism, and are recommended by 49% of physicians for children with autism.
However, there has recently been an increase in clinical studies assessing the benefits of autism supplements in children that extend beyond their sleep and digestion. Eye contact, behavior, and depression have recently been noted to have improved in some children with autism who take cod liver oil .
Beyond the issues specific to autism, most Western diets are deficient in key vitamins and minerals including iron, B vitamins , antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, vitamin D, and minerals magnesium and calcium.
Children, both with ASD and neurotypical, require a comprehensive diet filled with vitamins and minerals during this time of growth and brain development. Picky eaters will require closer monitoring of their vitamin and mineral intake to be sure they are receiving all the nutrition necessary.
Studies Show Vitamin D Reduces Manifestations Of Asd
A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines found that children with ASD who supplemented with Vitamin D3 showed improvement in signs and symptoms related to ASD. Amber Tovey, the Program Manager for the Vitamin D Council, sums up the research as follows:
After four months, vitamin D supplementation significantly improved the core manifestations of ASD, which include irritability, hyperactivity, social withdrawal, stereotypic behavior, and inappropriate speech. The placebo group did not experience any significant improvements.
Furthermore, children who received vitamin D supplementation experienced increased cognitive awareness, social awareness, and social cognition compared to those who only received the placebo. Vitamin D supplementation significantly decreased repetitive hand movements, random noises, jumping, and restricted interests.
Prenatal Vitamins May Help Decrease Autism Risk In Infants
Taking vitamins early in pregnancy may be key.
Prenatal vitamins may help to lower the risk of autism in children, even for high-risk families.
Now, new research published February 27 in , claims that the benefits of prenatal vitamins also extend to high-risk families as well.
Families that have a child with autism are at high risk of having another child with ASD.
These younger siblings are up to 14 times more likely to have ASD when compared with the general population because of ASDs genetic heritability.
According to the new study, use of prenatal vitamins cut the risk of developing ASD in younger siblings of children with ASD by half.
Evidence is building for an important role of gestational exposures, including nutrition, in relation to autism. Research from imaging and other studies of the brain show that processes affected in autism occur during pregnancy. Studies have repeatedly shown that taking folic acid supplements were associated with protection from autism in the general population,Rebecca J. Schmidt, PhD, assistant professor in the department of public health sciences and the MIND Institute, UC Davis School of Medicine, and first author of the study told Healthline.
What Theyre Saying:
Prenatal supplements packed with nutrients are an unnecessary expense, the researchers wrote.
Pregnant women may be vulnerable to messages about giving their baby the best start in life, regardless of cost, they wrote.The marketing of such products does not appear to be supported by evidence of improvement in child or maternal outcomes.
The trade group that represents supplement makers disagreed, pointing out that pregnant moms need to be sure theyre getting a slew of nutrients beyond those the researchers studied, including calcium, iodine, and protein. The group, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said dissuading mothers-to-be from taking supplements like those sold by some of its member companies could lead to serious repercussions.
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What Is Folic Acid
Folic acid is the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate. Folate is naturally found in leafy greens, like spinach and kale, pulses, kidney beans and lentils, and fruits like oranges, grapefruit and avocados. But not everyone gets enough folate naturally in their diet.
Because neural tube defects happen early in pregnancybefore many women even know they are pregnantand because pregnancies are often unplanned, Health Canada recommends that all women who could become pregnant take a multivitamin containing 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. If youre planning to become pregnant, its recommended you take the supplement for at least three months beforehand. The recommended intake then increases to 0.6 mg during pregnancy.
What Do I Really Need In A Prenatal Vitamin
Sifting through drugstore shelves or Amazon suggestions can be intimidating. And don’t worry, it’s not just youall of those options don’t just start to sound alike, they really are very similar, says Wendy Goodall McDonald, MD, a Chicago-based ob-gyn.
These are the recommended daily amounts of essential nutrients you should be getting when you’re pregnant and what a basic prenatal should have:
Folic acid: 400 milligrams
Vitamin D: 600 international units
Calcium: 1,000 milligrams
Iron: 27 milligrams
Omega-3 fatty acids: 200 milligrams
Other vitamins you should look for in your prenatals:
One thing to note: Getting enough vitamin D is especially important for BIPOC women, as they’re more prone to having a deficiency, says Lucky Sekhon, MD, an ob-gyn, infertility specialist, and reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York.
Vitamin D is important for strong bones and a healthy pregnancy, and having too little has been linked to conditions like preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure and associated organ damage during pregnancy, and preterm delivery. “Vitamin D is derived from sun exposure and skin absorption, which is limited in melanin-pigmented skin,” says Dr. Sekhon. “The average prenatal vitamin contains 400 IU of vitamin D. A woman whose levels are known to be deficient will require more than this daily amount to replenish it.”
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