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Folic acid supplements reduce AED-related autistic traits
JAMA Neurology (2017) doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.3897

Folic acid supplements taken by mothers before and around conception reduce the risk of autistic traits among children exposed to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in utero, according to Norwegian research.

The authors assessed maternal folic acid supplementation from 4 weeks before to 12 weeks after conception and analysed folate concentration in maternal plasma at 17 to 19 weeks gestation. They used the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers and Social Communication Questionnaire to detect traits.

The study enrolled 104,946 mothers aged, on average, 29.8 years. In the 335 children exposed to AEDs, the risk of autistic traits was six times higher at 18 months of age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 5.9) and eight times higher at 36 months (aOR 7.9) when mothers had not taken periconceptional folic acid supplements compared with those who took supplements.

In children of women without epilepsy, the risk of autistic traits was 30% and 70% higher at 18 and 36 months of age if mothers had not taken folic acid supplements. In children born to women with untreated epilepsy, the difference in autistic traits was not statistically different at either age.

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