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Is There A Link Between Folic Acid and Autism? | The Essential Guide To Autism

Is There A Link Between Folic Acid and Autism?


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The number of children that have been diagnosed with autism in the last ten years has risen quite dramatically. There is a lot of ongoing research, but there is no concrete solution for a cure, nor has anyone found the cause of this condition. There are many theories floating around, and though some sound plausible, there is yet to be anything determined in the way of research. One such theory is that there may be some sort of link between folic acid and autism in some children.

This theory is tricky, because folic acid is something that all women should have while they are pregnant, including the period while they are trying to conceive.

It is proven that a lack of folic acid during early pregnancy can cause birth defects like spina bifida and Down’s syndrome. There has a been a lot of noise generated about telling women to take this as a supplement so they can lower the chances of giving birth to a child with birth defects. This approach has worked very effectively, as less children are being born with these serious birth defects, but there are some that think this excessive intake of folic acid might be the root cause of autism for some children.

Folic acid in found naturally in some vegetables and fruits. However, a lot of people just don’t get enough from these sources, either because they don’t eat enough or because there is less folic acid in fresh produce than historically due to intensive farming methods. This has led some companies to start to supplement other foods with this vital nutrient so women could get the proper amount through their diet.

At the same time, doctors are suggesting a folic acid supplement for some women as a way to ensure they get enough. The result might be too much of a good thing, and the theory that this leads to autism is a troubling one. There is a belief that too much folic acid can lead to changes in the fetus on a chromosomal level that in turn may lead to autism.

The message about folic acid preventing birth defects was well received, and those supplemented foods are a direct result. A woman concerned about her pregnancy might eat enough fruits and vegetables, eat the fortified foods, and then take a supplement to boot. This can inevitably lead to high levels of folic acid within the system. Besides the theory about chromosomal changes, another theory states that too much folic acid promotes excess brain cell production. When there are too many cells, the connections between the cells essential for function do not form as they should. The theory is that this too could be a cause of autism.

However, expectant women reading this should remember that though this theory about folic acid exists, there is no evidence at this point that confirms the claims. It is advisable never to refrain from getting sufficient folic acid or there is the risk of a baby with birth defects.

A better solution would be to talk to a doctor about any concerns you might be have regarding folic acid and autism, and to find a way to be sure enough is ingested without getting too much. Discuss your current diet with your doctor so they can recommend an eating plan and also a supplement if needed.

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