Folic acid is long been considered an essential supplement for decreasing the occurrence of neurological deficits in foetus. This is a widely proven and widely accepted thesis, which is proven by multiple experiences. However, recent researchers have found out that an excessive increase in folate supplementation can increase the risk of autism in foetus. Previously we discussed the involvement of Zika virus in birth defects.
Folic acid has a proven benefit and a globally practiced therapy for pregnant women. But this recent research has sparked a controversy. Not all medical practitioners still believe in this research. However, it is preliminary. One of the authors in the research at John Hopkins University’s School of Public Health commented that, ‘’We have long known that a folate deficiency in pregnant mothers is detrimental to her child’s development. But what this (study) tells us is that excessive amounts may also cause harm, said by Dr Daniele Fallin. However, Fallin himself believes that there aren’t sufficient evidences to stop the recommended usage of folate when he say, ‘’We aren’t suggesting anyone to stop the supplementation’’
Another medical correspondent Dr Jon LaPook says, ‘’There’s no doubt that women who have too little intake of folic acid during pregnancy have an increased risk in having kids with sever neurological problems.’’ He carries on, ‘’this doesn’t means that taking too much B12 or folate causes autism, it’s an association. We don’t want women to misinterpret the headline.’’
What is Folate?
It is a naturally occurring B vitamin. It is considered to be essential for the proper neurological development of foetus. Folic acid is the supplement form of Vitamin. Time and again several studies have found out that folic acid deficiency in early pregnancy can cause birth defects and a greater risk of autism.
It was 1990s when health officials in North America started recommending folic acid for all pregnant and booked mothers on a daily basis. But recent study has added to the point that excessive levels can also be harmful.
Dr. Daniele Fallin says that, ‘’It is critical for scientific community to recognize that this potential for excess levels may be risky. We don’t want to think there is no consequence to sort of overloading on something considered good.’’
The New Research
The research involved 1,391 children who were born in Boston University Medical Centre in 1998 through 2013. About 100 were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. When researchers looked over the folate and Vitamin B12 levels in the blood of children’s mother they found that 16 of them had a very high level of folate, while 15 had extremely high levels of Vitamin B12.
[alert-note]Researchers said if both levels are high there are 17 fold greater chances of child developing autism.[/alert-note]
Still it remained unclear that either this disparity was because of excessive levels of folate and Vitamin B12 or it had some genetic predilection as the underlying kick, that some women have the ability to absorb more folate than others. Some believe there might be a combination of these 2.
Some experts have labelled this new study as preliminary and alarmist. A Canadian researcher said that the study reaffirms the growing suspicions about the health risks of excessively high folic acid levels.
A professor of medicine Young In Kim at University of Toronto says, ‘’Human and animal studies show too much folic acid in pregnancy may cause allergies, asthma and increased risk of cancer and cognitive dysfunction as well.’
Autism Canada executive director Laurie Mawlam said that, ‘’The study raises the potential concern that excess folate and/or vitamin B12 may increase the risk of Atrial Septal Defect (ASD).