Excess B vitamins and autism: the results of a US study

In order to guarantee a healthy development of its nervous system to your child, it is common practice to recommend future mothers to take a greater amount of folate, however the results of a recent study have shown that an overdose of folic acid could also be associated with a greater risk of autism for the unborn child.

The study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health

In order to ensure that your baby’s nervous system develops healthily, it is common practice to recommend expectant mothers to take more folate (vitamin B9), both before the start of 40 weeks of pregnancy and during pregnancy.

The results of a recent study – conducted by Dr. Daniele Fallin, Ph.D., and presented on May 13, 2016 at the International Meeting for Autism Research  in Baltimore – have however shown that an overdose of folic acid could also be associated with a greater risk of autism for the unborn child.

This study was done by researchers at the  Johns  Hopkins University School of Public Health .

They measured the amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and vitamin B12 that were taken by mothers who had given birth between 1998 and 2013.

Then, over the next several years, they had monitored their children’s development.

The results obtained led them to the following conclusions:

  • when the folates taken were four times higher than those considered optimal, the risk of autism for the newborn was doubled;
  • when, on the other hand, the amount of vitamin B12 was very high, the risk was tripled;
  • when both folate and vitamin B12 levels were high, the risk to the child increased 17.6-fold.

Some observations in this regard

It is the first time that folate intake has been associated with such serious risks for the unborn child.

However, after the initial clamor aroused by the medical-scientific community, it will necessarily have to carry out further studies in order to less confirm the truthfulness and correctness of these results.

In this regard, it should be appropriately clarified that the association identified by these researchers is not of a causal type, ie it does not indicate that an excessive use of folate by mothers necessarily entails a greater risk for the child of developing autism.

It simply indicates that, in their evidence, the two appeared together.

While waiting for the scientific community to examine and possibly validate these results (or not validate them), this news should serve to remind everyone, especially pregnant women, that what “too much is enough”, and that any excess leads risks with it.

In any case, during all nine months of pregnancy, it is necessary to follow the advice of your doctor or gynecologist, who have the skills and experience to evaluate the pros and cons of each treatment, of any dose of drug or  supplement  administered.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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