The benefits of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects or abnormalities of the spine have long been known. A study published last month in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives has shown that folic acid can reduce the risk of autism spectrum disorder in women who have been exposed to household or commercial pesticides. This study revealed that a high level intake of folic acid (greater than 800 µg or more) can effectively reduce the risk of autism. This was found in a group of patients who were exposed to any home or commercial use of pesticides. These home pesticides included pet flea and tick products, as well as indoor and outdoor sprays intended to kill insects.
It is well known that women who are exposed to these pesticides have an increased risk of having a child with autism. The use of at least 800 µg of folic acid decreases this risk in half compared with exposed women who did not take this amount of folic acid.
The take-home messages from this study is that women who are attempting to conceive or have recently conceived should avoid all household pesticides including pet medicine and taking 800 µg of folic acid is important to prevent neural tube defects as well as decrease the chance of having a child with autism. If you have any questions, please contact us!