Is Folic Acid Causing Autism?

(Photo: Flickr / @frankieleon)

For years, doctors have advised pregnant patients to take folic acid to help prevent birth defects in newborns.

According to CBS News, a new study, however, suggests too much of a good thing might be a huge problem. High levels of the vitamin in mothers' blood at the time of birth was linked to a higher risk of children developing autism down the road.

Other research, however, paints a different story, showing that sufficient amounts of folic acid can significantly reduce the risk.

Many experts have risen doubts about the new study, pointing out that findings include preliminary numbers based on a small number of families from one hospital.

Additionally, the analysis is based on the levels of vitamin present during time of delivery, which may not be a great reflection on what was going on in the woman's body during the time of early fetal development.

The scientists who made the findings acknowledge that there's no cause to change current health recommendations.

"We are not suggesting anyone stop supplementation," said M. Daniele Fallin, one of the researchers at Johns Hopkins University's school of public health.

CBS News' medical correspondent, Dr. Jon LaPook, said pregnant women should definitely continue taking folic acid.


"There's no doubt that women who have too little intake of folic acid during pregnancy have an increased risk in having kids with severe neurological problems," Dr. LaPook said.

He argued that a lot more needs to be studied — that the news is an "association" and not a "causation" and should be further explored.