Children whose mothers took high doses of folic acid or vitamin B9 at the time of conception, or 800 micrograms a day, are less likely to have autism linked to pesticide exposure, according to a study published in “Environmental Health Perspectives”.
This new work is particularly aimed at women who live in rural areas where pesticides are used at high levels and who wish to conceive a child. The intake of at least 800 micrograms of folic acid or vitamin B9 by future mothers at the time of conception mitigates the harmful effect of pesticides linked to the development of autism in their unborn children.
Among the 516 children followed, aged 2 to 5 years, 220 had ASD (autism spectrum disorder). The study shows that women who had low consumption of folic acid and who were exposed to agricultural pesticides three months before conception to three months after exposed their child to more risks. Below-average folic acid intake associated with pesticide exposure is linked to higher autism risk, compared to low intake or pesticide exposure alone.
Overall, the children who had the highest risk were those whose mothers were regularly exposed to pesticides.
Where to find vitamin B9 in the diet?
In general, folic acid or vitamin B9 is part of the basic recommendations for pregnant women, it is recommended to take 400 micrograms per day. These contributions play an important role in the formation of red blood cells, the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. It is necessary for the production of new cells, which makes it particularly important during the periods of embryonic and fetal development.
We know, for example, that before conception (one month before) and during the first trimester of pregnancy, this intake protects the child from certain malformations (spina bifida, cleft lip, heart malformations) and reduces the risk of spontaneous abortion. In the diet, folate is mainly present in the leaves of plants. It is found in brewer’s yeast, green vegetables (spinach, cabbage, salads), seeds such as corn and chickpeas, liver, lentils or seaweed.
Three out of four women of childbearing age are deficient in vitamin B9
The National Institute for Prevention and Health Education (Inpes) indicates that since this diet is not followed by the entire population, systematic supplementation for future mothers is preferable for greater safety. Nearly three quarters of women of childbearing age have dietary vitamin B9 intakes below the recommended dietary intake. Only 34.2% of women take supplementation during the antenatal period, according to Inpes.
Rebecca J. Schmidt,Vladimir Kogan,: Combined Prenatal Pesticide Exposure and Folic Acid Intake in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP604