The latest study, by the Environmental Health Perspectives, has indicated that mothers can reduce the risk of pesticide-related autism by consuming recommended-doses of folic acid during conception and early stages of pregnancy.
Pregnancy is one of the most anticipated phases in a woman’s life! The transformation is dramatic, with expectant mothers undergoing physical, emotional and psychological changes. The experience often changes a woman’s view of life and makes her feel responsible for her body, and the health of the child in her womb.
In order to ensure a safe pregnancy and to bolster the health of the child, prenatal dietary supplements are essential and recommended by gynecologists all over the world. Even if you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, there will be a small dearth of essential nutrients that the baby needs. Folic acid, calcium, and iron supplements are a must to plug any nutritional gap.
Let us understand the benefits of folic acid and its importance in the growth of the foetus:
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a form of vitamin B9 and features in the B-complex family. It is available in a variety of super foods such as greens, vegetables, citrus fruits and complex carbohydrates. Being a water-soluble vitamin, it is consumed as a multivitamin supplement to ensure better absorption.
What are the benefits of folic acid?
- Folic acid plays a pivotal part in the creation of DNA, a molecule that transmits genetic instructions for formation of cells. Thus, it is crucial for normal growth and development of any living organism.
- Folic acid is a critical element in the formation of red blood cells. Red blood cells are the primary carrier of oxygen to various organs in the human body; hence, folic acid plays an important role in the functioning of the nervous system.
- Deficiency of folic acid causes instantaneous drop in the red blood cells count, causing several complications such as anemia and megaloblastic anemia.
Why is folic acid essential during pregnancy?
- Folic acid is the miracle micronutrient that safeguards the baby from developing neural tube defect such as spina bifida (spinal cord defect) and anencephaly (brain defect). Improper development of neural tube can cause irreparable damage to the nervous system, at times causing paralysis.
- Folic acid is also essential for prevention of other birth defects, such as a cleft palate, cleft lip and heart defects.
- Folic acid helps in eradicating miscarriages and premature birth of the baby.
- Research has established that regular intake of folic acid supplements during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of autism spectrum disorders in new born.
Now a latest study, by the Environmental Health Perspectives, has indicated that mothers can reduce the risk of pesticide-related autism by consuming recommended-doses of folic acid during conception. Below is a summary of the findings:
- Lower folic acid intake coupled with pesticide exposure has been associated with greater risk of autism spectrum disorders in the newborn.
- Supplementing the diet with folic acid may assist in genomic development, hence, plays a pivotal part when the foetus is growing rapidly.
- The study clearly indicated that the child faced lower autism risk when mothers consumed 400 to 800 mgs of folic acid and avoided exposure to pesticides, as compared to mothers who consumed lesser folic acid with increased exposure to agricultural pesticides.
- The risk was enhanced when the mother was frequently exposed to pesticides especially during the early stages of pregnancy, notably from three months before conception through the first trimester.
- The research further suggests that though folic acid significantly reduces the risk of pesticide related autism, it does not eliminate it entirely.
Thus, it is advisable for all expectant mothers to avoid pesticide exposure and ensure adequate intake of supplements for a healthy future ahead!