Autism: taking folic acid lowers the risk of pesticides
Women who want to have a child should make sure that they get enough folic acid. If this is taken around the time of conception, the risk of autism for the offspring from pesticides is reduced. Researchers from the USA have now found that out.
Folic acid reduces the risk of autism from pesticides
To ensure the best possible care for the baby in the mother's belly, a lot of folic acid should be on the menu during pregnancy. However, folic acid is also recommended for women before they become pregnant. Because this can reduce the risk of autism for your child through pesticides, as US researchers have now found out.
Significant influence on the development of unborn children
Scientists from the University of California at Davis (California) reported years ago on a study that showed that pesticides could be the cause of autism.
The US researchers wrote at the time that "exposure to pesticides during pregnancy has a significant impact on the development of unborn children".
Another team of scientists from the University of California has now found that mothers who take the recommended amount of folic acid around conception reduce their child's risk of autism from pesticides.
The results of the study were recently published in the "Environmental Health Perspectives" magazine.
Risk of autism spectrum disorder
According to this, children whose mothers took 800 or more micrograms of folic acid had a significantly lower risk of an autism spectrum disorder.
As the news agency "Pressetext" reports, this was also the case when the mothers came into contact with household or agricultural pesticides that are associated with an increased risk.
In order to arrive at their results, the researchers evaluated data from the "Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment" (CHARGE). They focused on 296 children between the ages of two and five with an autism spectrum disorder and 220 children who developed normally.
The mothers were asked about their exposure to household pesticides during pregnancy and their folic acid and vitamin B intake.
The scientists also combined data from California Pesticide Use reports, which provide details on the agricultural use of pesticides, with the addresses of the women.
Avoid exposure to pesticides if possible
It was shown that mothers who consumed less than 800 micrograms of folic acid and who came into contact with household pesticides were at a significantly higher risk of their child developing an autism spectrum disorder.
According to the information, the risk increased with repeated contact. Women who ingested less folic acid and were exposed to agricultural pesticides before and after conception were also at higher risk.
"The mothers who had the highest risk were those who were regularly exposed to pesticides," said research director Rebecca J. Schmidt in a statement. "Folic acid reduced the risk of autism, but it was not completely eliminated."
She added: "For women who are pregnant, it would be better to avoid exposure to pesticides if possible."
The study authors admitted that it is a case-control study that is heavily dependent on the memories of the participants. A causal connection has yet to be established.
In a further step, the protective effects of folic acid will be examined in more detail. According to Schmidt, this is crucial for DNA methylation and repair and synthesis.
In periods of rapid growth, they all play an important role when the cells divide like a developing fetus. (ad)