Doctors routinely prescribe pregnant women or women hoping to become pregnant multivitamins and folic acid.
A study published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry is giving them more reason than ever to follow this daily regimen.
Researchers studied more than 45,000 Israeli children born between January 2003 and December 2007 and whether their mothers were prescribed multivitamins and folic acid.
Those mothers who took either folic acid, mutlivitamins or both during pregnancy had an estimated 73 percent lower chance of having a baby with an autism spectrum disorder than women who were not prescribed one or both of these supplements.
The children were followed from birth to January 26, 2015. Of the children in the study, 572 were diagnosed with autism.
The study’s authors said the results required “cautious interpretation given several limitations.” Among them, a limited sample size.
Dr. Ruth Milanaik, told Health Day News, that the study further suffers in that it could not definitively prove which women actually took their prescribed supplements.
Milanaik, director of the neonatal neurodevelopmental follow-up program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y., added that the study does not prove a direct cause-and-effect between supplements and autism. Milanaik said:
“I don’t have a problem with saying folic acid is good for pregnant women. You should not only take folic acid during pregnancy, you should also take folic acid before pregnancy. But this study does not show that (not taking supplements) is a cause of autism in any way, shape or form.”