New research out of Norway suggests that taking vitamin supplements containing folic acid before conception is linked with a reduced risk – perhaps by as much as 40 percent – of having a child who develops autism.
Folic acid is found naturally in foods like dried beans, peas, nuts and leafy greens, and celebrated for its work helping the body manufacture healthy new cells. It’s also regarded as highly important for soon-to-be-pregnant women, thanks to its power preventing major birth defects related to babies’ brains and spines (like spina bifada, where the two sides of an embryo’s spine fail to join, leaving an incomplete or exposed cord).
Eager to know more, NPR tapped URMC autism expert Dr. Susan Hyman for her take on the new research that included more than 85,000 women. We’re deviating from our traditional Q&A approach and instead pointing you directly to the full NPR report (you can also read a transcript), here.
Susan. L. Hyman, M.D., has three decades of experience treating and researching autism spectrum disorders and is the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on autism, often acting as a spokesperson for the organization. Hyman’s recent research has focused on the diet and nutrition of children with autism and on the most effective behavioral treatments for the developmental disorder.
URMC’s Division of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics – in collaboration with the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities – houses one of the largest Autism Spectrum treatment and research programs in New York State. In addition to diagnostic assessment and clinical treatment, school and community education and consultation, the Division also provides Information and Referral Services and web-based resources, all designed to aid people affected by Autism and those who care for them.