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Multivitamins use during pregnancy could reduce autism risk

Researchers have cautiously suggested a possible link between taking multivitamins during pregnancy and a lower risk of autism in children.

Researchers have cautiously suggested a possible link between taking multivitamins during pregnancy and a lower risk of autism in children.


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An international research team, led by America’s Drexel University in Philadelphia, used three different analytical methods to look at 273,107 mother-child pairs living in Stockholm, Sweden.

The children were age four to 14 and had been born between 1996 and 2007.

Women had reported their use of folic acid, iron and multivitamin supplements at their first antenatal visit and cases of child autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were identified from national registers.

The researchers found multivitamin use was associated with a lower likelihood of child ASD with intellectual disability.

Around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum.

Source: The National Autistic Society

No consistent evidence was found for iron or folic acid contributing to reduced risk.

The researchers warn confounding, and assessment of type, time and dose of supplements, limit the study.

However they add the size of the sample and methods of analysis strengthen the findings.

Previous research has tended to indicate ASD is likely to develop in the womb and that a mother’s diet during pregnancy could have an influence.

The authors of this report said the findings should not influence nutritional supplementation during pregnancy, but they would like further investigation, including randomised studies.


DeVilbiss E et all (2017): Antenatal nutritional supplementation and autism spectrum disorders in the Stockholm youth cohort: population based cohort study. BMJ. Doi: 10.1136/bmj.j4273

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