A new research has found that consuming large amounts of folic acid, during pregnancy, may increase the risk of the baby developing an autism spectrum disorder.

According to a HealthDay reporter, Dennis Thompson, folic acid is usually required for pregnant women. It has been used in diets or added as vitamin supplements to bread, pasta, rice and cereals to protect babies from birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

Ingesting large amounts of folic acid during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing autism
A recent study found that taking large amounts of folic acid while pregnant may increase the baby’s risk of having autism. Credit: Burlingtoncountytimes.com

But the new study has found that high levels of folate and B12 in blood during the pregnancy and delivery can increase the probability of having a child with autism. The findings suggest that excessive amounts of B12 levels made it three times more probable for the kid to develop the disorder.

Also, if the mother had high levels of both folate and B12, the risk increased 17 times compared to a mother with normal levels of the nutrients.

Nonetheless, a cause-effect relation between high levels of folate and B12, and the risk of developing autism could not be proven.

The study has not been published yet. The findings are scheduled to be presented on Friday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore.

Previous studies

In a study by a team of scholars writing in Cell Reports, the results suggest that carnitine, a supplement required to transport fatty acids into mitochondria, which is a compartment within the cell that turns fat into energy, can protect babies against certain types of autism.

Carnitine can be manufactured by the body itself or found in dietary sources, such as red meat and whole milk, says the study.

A different study from the New York University found that, by blocking cells that produce a chemical called IL-17a in the brain, the functions of it go back to normal.

The researchers worked with baby mice and studied T lymphocytes, which are immune cells that react to infections by creating “a cellular army” that attacks the invading microbes.

A subset of those cells called Th17 cells, release interleukin 17 (IL-17), which is a protein that boosts how a body responds and fends off infections.

The study found that when the levels of such protein are too high, or non-present, it can lead to autoimmune diseases such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.

A third study has found that the baby’s immune system can contribute to developing autism. The research team of Swedish and Americans said that levels of certain protein in the newborn’s blood can increase the risk of developing the disorder.

The team studied blood from around 900 children born in Sweden between 1998 and 2000, and who had some type of autism. The researchers compared the blood samples to other samples from over 1,100 kids who did not develop the disorder.

This study cannot prove a cause-effect relation either. But the study found that those babies who developed autism had higher blood levels of proteins that trigger inflammation.

Source: HealthDay