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If Mom Overdoses on B Vitamins, Will Her Child Be Autistic?

Women whose B vitamin levels were elevated during pregnancy were significantly more likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder.

Many Americans operate on the “lottle principle,” assuming that if a little is good, a lottle (or a lot) would be better. That can be a risky tactic, especially during pregnancy.

Excessive B Vitamins Could Spell Trouble:

Women should not assume that if a little folic acid is good, more is better, according to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Extremely high levels of two B vitamins, folic acid and vitamin B12, appear to increase the risk that the baby they bear could become autistic.

Boston Birth Cohort Provides Alarming Data:

The researchers used information from the Boston Birth Cohort. It contains nearly 1,400 mother-child pairs in which the child was born between 1998 and 2013.

The mothers had their blood tested at the time they gave birth; the scientists found that 10 percent had excessive levels of folic acid. In addition, 6 percent had excess vitamin B12.

High B Vitamin Levels Linked to Higher Risk of Autism:

Although the investigators don’t know why some women had such high levels, they found that these high levels were associated with an elevated risk of autism in the child. The moral of this story seems to echo the tale of Goldilocks and the porridge: the best levels for B vitamins during pregnancy are neither too high nor too low.

International Meeting for Autism Research, Baltimore, MD, May 13, 2016

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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