For a New York Times article that is definitely worth reading, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/health/research/14patterns.html.
In previous blogs we have referred to the study recently published in the medical journal Epidemiology and covered in the New York Times article, which showed that consuming prenatal vitamins before and during pregnancy is associated with a significantly reduced risk of autism developing in the child. We have focused on the best timing for taking prenatal vitamins to realize this and other positive impacts from prenatal vitamins. With the steadily increasing risk for autism, we feel that a targeted discussion of this issue is warranted.
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and negatively affects a child’s development of social and communication skills. It affects boys 3 to 4 times more often than girls. There is a lot of debate over causes of autism, but one thing is clear – the incidence of reported autism cases is increasing dramatically. About 30 years ago, the incidence was reported to be approximately 1 in 100,00 children. Now, that incidence is reported to be 1 in 110, or even higher! Some would argue that part of the increase is due to more specific diagnosis, but this can’t explain even close to the full extent of the rise.
The causes of autism are not at all well understood, and there are few effective ways to deal with the condition. Fortunately, it appears that taking prenatal vitamins for at least 3 months prior to conception and into pregnancy can reduce the risk of having a child who develops autism by about 40%, as published in the Epidemiology paper and discussed in the New York Times article.
This information means that anyone planning on becoming pregnant is best served by being on a quality prenatal vitamin well before conception. With the uncertainties of timing conception, a growing number of health authorities, including Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen, are recommending that all fertile women of childbearing age routinely be on prenatal vitamins. This is certainly a way to ensure full benefits from them, including autism protection as outlined in the study referenced.