Report: Prenatal Vitamins May Cut Chance of Autism in Half

A new study found interesting information that could cut the chances of having a child with autism in half.

According to the Los Angeles Times, researchers reported in the online edition of the journal of Epidemiology on May 25 that women who do not take prenatal vitamins before and during pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child with autism. The study also found that certain women who carry mutations in a high-risk gene are seven times as likely to have a child with a developmental disorder. The results of the study will be published in print this July.

Researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute studied about 700 families with 2-to 5-year-old children with Autism. In telephone interviews the mothers were asked what vitamins they took prenatally or during pregnancy.

Results showed that in order for the vitamins to have any affect they needed to be ingested prenatally or during the first month of pregnancy. Women who took the vitamins during their second month had no affect from the vitamins suggesting that by the time most women learn they are pregnant it may be too late to take the vitamins.

During the study researchers also found a strong correlation between two gene mutations that have previously been linked to Autism risk. Mutations of both the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, and the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene are linked to Autism. Women with the MTHFR variant who did not take vitamins were 4.5 times more likely to have a child with the disorder than women who did not have the gene mutation present. Women who had the COMT variant and did not take vitamins were seven times more likely to have a child with Autism.

People speculate this is great news for the medical community as it offers a fairly inexpensive way to dramatically reduce the risk of developmental disorders in children.