Autism and the Mother’s Nutrition

A recent study demonstrated that mothers who took supplements during pregnancy had a lower number of children with autism than mothers who did not take supplements. The study suggests that (!!!) the nutritional state of the mother during pregnancy may have a significant impact on the health of her child.

See chapters 11-14 of The 12 Elixirs for more information on nutrition and the health of our children.

“An international collaboration led by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Drexel University (Philadelphia, USA) set out to investigate the association between mothers’ use of supplementation during pregnancy and risk of ASD in their offspring who were aged 4 to 15 years.
They analyzed data from the Stockholm Youth Cohort, which included 273,107 mother-child pairs living in Stockholm County (Sweden). Mother’s use of multivitamin, iron, and folic supplementation was reported at the first antenatal visit. Diagnosis of ASD with and without intellectual disability in children was obtained from register data.
The researchers found that the prevalence of offspring ASD with intellectual disability was 0.26% and 0.48% in the maternal multivitamin use group and the non-use group, respectively. This meant that mothers who used multivitamin (with or without additional iron or folic acid, or both) was associated with an average 31% lower risk of ASD in children compared with mothers who did not use supplements. After adjusting for potential confounders and using other analytic methods, similar estimates were found.
However, the association study does not prove that multivitamin use caused lower risk of developing ASD in child. Due to limitations of the data, the study cannot answer how type, timing, and dose of supplement influences the ASD risk. Also, it remains to be determined whether there is a critical window for multivitamin use by mother and whether certain combinations of specific nutrients are responsible for the prevention of ASD.
The study results were published in the journal BMJ (October 2017).
Why is this Clinically Relevant?
  • Maternal nutrition during pregnancy is essential for the wellbeing of offspring. This study indicates it is also associated with lower risk of ASD
  • Clinicians may recommend multivitamin supplement for women who plan to become pregnant or are in early pregnancy
  • It is important to select supplements that are manufactured according to GMP which ensures quality standard

 

References
[1] DeVilbiss, E.A., et al., Antenatal nutritional supplementation and autism spectrum disorders in the Stockholm youth cohort: population based cohort study. BMJ, 2017. 359: p. j4273.”
Thank you to Carl  at NutriDyn for this reference.
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