Taking folic acid before and after pregnancy is linked to a lower risk of autism, a new study by the Norwegian Institute for Public Health revealed.
"It appears that the reduced risk of childhood autism only reflects folic acid supplements, not food or other supplements and that the crucial time interval is from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into pregnancy," said Dr. Pal Surén, primary author of the paper and researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that mothers who took folic acid had a 40 percent reduced risk of giving birth to a child with autism.
Folic acid supplements are already recommended for mothers-to-be as a way to prevent other birth defects such as spina bifida.
In 2012, one in 88 children in the United States was diagnosed with an autism-related condition, up from one in 110 in 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.