And now, research has revealed yet another benefit of folic acid consumption around the window of conception.
Researchers from UC Davis observed nearly 300 children who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) alongside 220 children who had no evidence of such disorder. The team interviewed their mothers about prenatal pesticide exposure and their folic acid and vitamin B consumption in the three months before and after conception as well. According to their findings, mothers who took the amount of folic acid found in most prenatal vitamins were less likely to have children with ASD, even if they'd experienced household pesticide exposure (which had been linked to increased autism risk).
Researchers will likely study this link in greater detail, as much of their data was based on self-reported figures and relied on mothers' memories (which may not have been completely accurate).
"We found that if the mom was taking folic acid during the window around conception, the risk associated with pesticides seemed to be attenuated," said study author Rebecca J. Schmidt in a release for this news. "Mothers should try to avoid pesticides. But if they live near agriculture, where pesticides can blow in, this might be a way to counter those effects....Folic acid intake below the median and exposure to pesticides was associated with higher risk of autism than either low intake or exposure alone. The mothers who had the highest risk were the ones who were exposed to pesticides regularly."