Overdose of folate and vitamin B12 during pregnancy may lead to autism—study

04:19 PM May 12, 2016

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, Maryland have discovered a link between high dosage of of folate and vitamin B12 among pregnant women and autism cases among unborn babies.

Citing reports from The Telegraph, Folic acids, which are used for rapid cell division and growth during the infancy period, may cause developmental disorders to children inside the womb.


“We have long known that a folate deficiency in pregnant mothers is detrimental to her child’s development,” said  Director of the JHU Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Daniele Fallin. “But what this tells us is that excessive amounts may also cause harm. We must aim for optimal levels of this important nutrient.”

Expectant mothers were mostly advised by doctors to take supplements of folic acid and the synthetic version of the B vitamin folate during early pregnancy, to reduce the risk of disabling or fatal birth defects such as spina bifida.


The new research, however, claimed that excessive levels of both nutrients boosted the risk level of developing Autism to 17.6 percent.

For the study, researchers analysed data from 1,391 mother-child pairs in the Boston Birth Cohort, a mostly low-income population group in the U.S.

Through rigorous testing, 1 in 10 were found to have very high levels of folate, which was associated with a doubling of autism risk.

Similarly, 6 percent had excess levels of vitamin B12 which also increased the chances of a baby developing autism.

This proved that high levels of both nutrients increased the risk dramatically.

Meanwhile, Ramkripa Raghavan, a representative from the Bloomberg School’s Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, had high regards for the study’s results.

“We tell women to be sure to get folate early in pregnancy. What we need to figure out now is whether there should be additional recommendations about just what an optimal dose is throughout pregnancy,” she said.


Autism is considered a ‘spectrum’ condition, with a wide range of severity that impairs an individual’s ability to communicate and interact socially.

Both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a significant role in its development. Khristian Ibarrola

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TAGS: autism, folate, Health and Science, pregnancy, vitamin b12
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