Vitamin B9 lowers the risk of autism in children

Taking folic acid during pregnancy is very important for the neurological development of the future child. Taking Vitamin B9 could also reduce the risk of autism.

It is estimated that 1 in 150 children suffer from pervasive developmental disorders, the best known of these disorders being autism. This condition, which generally appears around the age of 18 or 24 months, mainly affects boys (4 to 5 times more than girls) and profoundly disrupts the development and functioning of the child. Autistic symptoms can vary greatly from child to child, but are generally characterized by communication problems, poor social interactions, and restricted or repetitive interests and behaviors.

Several factors determine the occurrence of autism

Autism is a complex disorder whose causes remain poorly understood. A hereditary genetic component is clearly established since identical twins are simultaneously affected by this disorder, and siblings of an autistic person are also at greater risk. The work carried out so far suggests that mutations in certain genes responsible for communication between neurons at synapses may participate in the development of autism. The exact influence of these genes, however, remains difficult to establish since up to 1000 distinct genes could be involved, interacting with each other under the influence of different lifestyle factors to promote the development of this disorder. Moreover, some genes suspected of causing autism appear frequently in the absence of faulty parental genes, suggesting that the alteration of these genes occurred during child development. Autism is therefore a complex disease, the development of which can be influenced by a range of factors.

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Vitamin B9 for pregnant women

It has been suspected for several years that autism develops very early, possibly during the formation of the nervous system during the first month of pregnancy. It is therefore possible that certain factors known to influence the neurological development of the child may also exert a positive impact on the risk of autism.

Folic acid (vitamin B9), present in large quantities in green vegetables, is essential for the growth of neurons and the development of the nervous system. As the intake of this vitamin is often too low in the modern diet, pregnant women are advised to take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. This recommendation has had an extraordinary influence on the incidence of these malformations, with studies showing a 70% reduction in neural tube defects since its implantation.

600 micrograms of vitamin B9 reduces the risk of autism by 40%

To determine the relationship between folic acid intake and autism risk, researchers analyzed the diets and supplementation of 429 mothers of preschool children with autism and 278 mothers of children with autism. development was normal. They observed that mothers of normal children had higher intakes of folic acid during pregnancy than mothers of autistic children. Overall, the data indicate that an average daily folic acid intake above 600 microg during the first trimester is associated with a 40% decrease in the risk of autism.

Supplementation from the first months of pregnancy

These observations are momentous because they identify for the first time a risk factor for autism that can be modulated by lifestyle. It should be remembered, however, that the folic acid demand of the fetus is highest during the first month of pregnancy, a period when the expectant mother is often unaware that she is pregnant. For women who are trying to get pregnant, adopting a diet rich in folic acid (green vegetables, legumes) could be an excellent way to ensure the maintenance of their health… and that of their future child.

Schmidt RJ et al. Maternal periconceptional folic acid intake and risk of autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay in the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) case-control study. Am J Clin Nutr, 96:80-89.

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