Pune: A new study published in ‘The Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry’ noted that the consumption of folic acid (FA) and multivitamin supplements by women before and during pregnancy was associated with a lower likelihood of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ASD consists of a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.
Researchers revealed the decreased risk of ASD in children born to the mothers, who used FA and/or multivitamin supplements before and/or during pregnancy in 45,300 children in Israel as compared with those who had not. These children were born between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007.
The study also found that the association between the use of multivitamin supplements and the risk of ASD was similar in male and female offspring. The findings may reflect non-compliance, higher rates of vitamin deficiency or poor diet among persons with psychiatric conditions.
Speaking about providing expecting mothers with FA and multivitamin, Dr Devika Jadhav who previously worked as the paediatric-in-charge, at the Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU) at Aundh District Hospital said that FA and multi-vitamin supplements are very important for the child as well as the mother.
“The State government initiative provides mothers with FA and multivitamin. Folic acid or Iron helps in maintaining the haemoglobin of the mother and multivitamin helps in the growth of the brain and spinal system of the children. Hence, these two elements are very crucial in the development of the infant,” said Jadhav.
She further highlighted that taking these supplements before pregnancy can further help as it maintains the level of red blood cells in the child as well as the mother.
“If the levels are good from the start, the child can be healthy for a long time after he is born. If the levels are low, then there is a possibility that the child becomes weaker before his own immunity is strengthened which will further damage his development in the long run,” said Jadhav.