A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Winter, 2018 | Number 1, Volume 32

Large-scale study points to benefits of prenatal folic acid

A new, large-scale study from Israel suggests that maternal supplementation with multivitamins and folic acid can reduce the risk of children developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

Stephen Levine and colleagues analyzed data collected on 45,300 children born between 2003 and 2007 and followed from birth up to 2015, comparing children who developed ASD to those who did not. They also determined which mothers took prescription nutritional supplements before and/or during pregnancy. They found that children of mothers who took folic acid, multivitamin supplements, or both types of supplements before and/or during pregnancy had a reduced risk of developing ASD. 

The authors conclude that “a reduced risk of autism spectrum disorder in children born to women who used the specified vitamin supplements before and during pregnancy has important public health implications,” but they note that their study does not prove a causal relationship between supplementation and ASD risk.


“Association of maternal use of folic acid and multivitamin supplements in the periods before and during pregnancy with the risk of autism spectrum disorder in offspring,” Stephen Z. Levine, Arad Kodesh, Alexander Viktorin, Lauren Smith, Rudolf Uher, Abraham Reichenberg, and Sven Sandin, JAMA Psychiatry, January 3, 2018 (online). Address: Stephen Levine, Department of Community Mental Health, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel. 


 “Supplements during pregnancy may reduce autism risk,” Tim Newman, Medical News Today, January 5, 2018.