Autism can possibly be prevented by pregnant mothers according to researchers in charge of a study at the University of California, Davis.
The study suggests the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder may be reduced by taking iron supplements as prescribed, according to CBS News. Mothers who have children with autism were notably less likely to have taken iron supplements before or during their pregnancies than women who had children without signs of autism.
Rebecca Schmidt, lead study author and assistant professor in the department of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis, admits the study will have to be researched further, but assured the study emphasizes the importance of taking certain supplements, including folic acid, during pregnancy.
“While the study needs to be replicated, it reinforces the current practice of taking the recommended dose of pregnancy vitamins and folic acid when pregnant.”
Mothers who are 35-years-old or older and do not take the recommended iron supplements as prescribed are up to five times more likely to have a child with autism, according to Fox News. Women who have metabolic disorders such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity shared the same high risk.
Schmidt estimated 40 to 50 percent of women and their infants are affected by iron deficiency.
“Iron deficiency is pretty common, and even more common with women with metabolic conditions,” Schmidt stated.
Researchers studied the mothers of children with autism and mothers with children appearing to have normal development for three months prior to their pregnancies, through the end, and during breastfeeding.
“The association between lower maternal iron intake and increased ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk was strongest during breastfeeding, after adjustment for folic acid intake,” Schmidt said in a press release.
Iron is already known to be very important for the development of the fetus and after the baby is born. During brain development, iron is a key in creating healthy connections and specific functions. According to Newsmax, children who have autism typically have lower levels of iron.
“Iron is crucial to early brain development, contributing to neurotransmitter production, myelination and immune function. All three of these pathways have been associated with autism.”
While more research needs to be done on autism spectrum disorder, researchers suggest pregnant women strictly follow their doctors’ advice and to take the daily recommended dosage of vitamins to prevent autism.
“If there are side effects, talk to your doctor about how to address them,” Schmidt advised pregnant women.