Autism affects as many as 1 in every 110 children in the United states. You’ll find this statistic all over the TV and Internet. So, naturally, we’re all looking for a reason for this and a way to reduce the risk. I remember when mothers were terrified of vaccines for their babies because some thought the vaccines were causing Autism. Then, I saw a post on Facebook for chiropractors about suggesting women take prenatal vitamins to reduce the risk that their baby will have Autism. I tracked down the source and found a great article from Science-Based Medicine about a recent study. First of all, vaccines are not the cause:
Science has found no evidence that vaccines cause autism; but the true cause(s) of autism have not yet been determined. So far the available evidence has pointed towards a largely genetic cause with possible interaction with environmental factors. A new study supports that interpretation. It also supports previous evidence that autism is triggered prior to birth, rather than at the time of vaccinations.
Unfortunately, the study did find that you have to plan the pregnancy or just be one of those women who always take prenatal vitamins. You have to be taking the prenatal vitamin 3 months before conception and the first month after conception to get any benefit, according to this study. I think this is actually great news because I seem to be one of only a handful of women who takes a prenatal because of age and nothing more. I get a lot of grief for it from my friends, jabs from family, and strange looks at the health food store, but if you read the label it is “for women of child bearing age.” My acupuncturist actually suggested I be taking them for that exact reason. So now, I hope that more women will read this and start buying a prenatal rather than a regular 1-a-day so that I won’t look like a black sheep at the health food store. It’s good for you and it may reduce the risk that your child will have Autism if/when you decide to have children.
It was a population-based case control study of 566 subjects comparing a group of autistic children to a matched control group of children with normal development. They looked at maternal intake of prenatal vitamins in the 3 months before conception and the first month of pregnancy, and they looked for genotypes associated with autism. They found that mothers who didn’t take prenatal vitamins were at greater risk of having an autistic child, and certain genetic markers markedly increased the risk. There was a dose/response relationship: the more prenatal vitamins a woman took, the less likely she would have an autistic child. There was no association with other types of multivitamins, and no association with prenatal vitamin intake during months 2-9 of pregnancy.