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expert reaction to prenatal vitamin use and risk of autism spectrum disorder

Research published in JAMA Psychiatry demonstrates maternal prenatal vitamin intake during the first month of pregnancy may reduce autism recurrence in siblings of children with autism.

Dr James Cusack, Director of Science, Autistica, said:

“This study on folic acid looked at expectant mothers who already have a child with autism – who we know are much more likely to have another autistic child.

“Parents who took reported taking folic acid in the first month of pregnancy were less likely to have a child with autism than those who did. 

“This and previous studies seem to suggest that there may be a link between folic acid and autism.  Results are mixed, though.  It is still not clear whether folic acid reduces the likelihood of having an autistic child.  There are possibly other reasons behind the association and we need to investigate this further.

“It’s important to note that the difference was only found in women who took a higher dose of folic acid than is recommended. The evidence is definitely not strong enough to suggest that expectant mothers should exceed the recommended dose.  Parents with any further concerns or questions should contact their GP.”

‘Association of Maternal Prenatal Vitamin Use With Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder Recurrence in Young Sibling’ by Rebecca Schmidt et al. was published in JAMA Psychiatry at 16:00 UK time on Wednesday 27th February.

Declared interests

Dr James Cusack: No conflicts of interest.

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