By Teresa Conrick
In-between the horrendously, horrible hurricane season, research about Folic Acid, PESTICIDES, and AUTISM, has been hitting the news ... again. If you think this sounds familiar, it IS.
Here is a timeline of research and news releases:
■ Maternal periconceptional folic acid intake and risk of autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay in the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) case-control study, May 30, 2012
A mean daily folic acid intake of ≥600 μg (compared with <600 μg) during P1 was associated with reduced ASD risk (adjusted OR: 0.62; 95% CI: 0.42, 0.92; P = 0.02), and risk estimates decreased with increased folic acid (P-trend = 0.001). The association between folic acid and reduced ASD risk was strongest for mothers and children with MTHFR 677 C>T variant genotypes. A trend toward an association between lower maternal folic acid intake during the 3 mo before pregnancy and DD was observed, but not after adjustment for confounders.
Conclusions: Periconceptional folic acid may reduce ASD risk in those with inefficient folate metabolism. The replication of these findings and investigations of mechanisms involved are warranted.
■ Maternal prenatal folic acid supplementation is associated with a reduction in development of autistic disorder, July 2013
Question What is the association of prenatal folic acid supplementation in pregnant women with subsequent development of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs; autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]) in their children?...he adjusted OR for autistic disorder in children of folic acid users was 0.61 (95% CI, 0.41–0.90). No association was found with Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS, but power was limited. Similar analyses for prenatal fish oil supplements showed no such association with autistic disorder, even though fish oil use was associated with the same maternal characteristics as folic acid use.
Conclusions- Use of prenatal folic acid supplements around the time of conception was associated with a lower risk of autistic disorder in this cohort. Although these findings cannot establish causality, they do support prenatal folic acid supplementation.
Commentary- The report by Suréen et al utilizes the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) Autism Birth Cohort to report that periconceptional folic acid supplementation (4 weeks before to 8 weeks after conception) lowers the risk of autistic disorder, but not other ASDs. These findings are consistent with findings from recent studies from Asia, Europe, and North America, suggesting that children of mothers with higher blood folate concentrations or mothers receiving folic acid supplements had improved neurodevelopmental outcomes.1–4 It is unclear whether these findings have clinical implications in the US.
■ The Relationship between Folic Acid and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Healthcare 2014
The role of folic acid in the prevention of macrocytic anemia and neural tube defects is well established. However, the relationship between folic acid and risk of autism is still evolving. Furthermore, environmental as well as nutritional factors such as folic acid are now well acknowledged as interacting with the individual genetic background in development of several diseases. In this article, recent research regarding the relationship between folic acid and risk of autism is evaluated.
Too much folate in pregnant women increases autism risk, study suggests, May 12, 2016
Researchers found that if a new mother has a very high level of folate right after giving birth—more than four times what is considered adequate—the risk that her child will develop a condition on the autism spectrum doubles. Very high vitamin B12 levels in new moms are also potentially harmful, tripling the risk that her offspring will develop an autism spectrum disorder. If both levels are extremely high, the risk that a child develops the condition increases 17.6 times.
Folate, a B vitamin, is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, while the synthetic version, folic acid, is used to fortify cereals and breads in the United States and in vitamin supplements....A large majority of the mothers in the study reported having taken multivitamins—which would include folic acid and vitamin B12—throughout pregnancy. But the researchers say they don't know exactly why some of the women had such high levels in their blood. It could be that they consumed too many folic acid-fortified foods or took too many supplements. Or, they say, it could be that some women are genetically predisposed to absorbing greater quantities of folate or metabolizing it slower, leading to the excess. Or it could be a combination of the two.
Folate concentrations during pregnancy and autistic traits in the offspring. The Generation R Study., 2015 Jun
In a population-based study, we examined the associations of maternal plasma folate concentrations at 13 weeks of gestation and prenatal folic acid supplement use with autistic traits in the offspring at the age of six years. Parent-reported autistic traits were assessed using the Social Responsiveness Scale short form. Maternal folate was not associated with autistic traits in the offspring. In contrast, prenatal folic acid use was associated with less child autistic traits. Future research should focus on the timing of the potential effect of prenatal folate on the development of autistic traits in combination with clinical diagnosis of autism in the offspring.
- To give Folic Acid or not to give, that is the question? This study then links Folic Acid to PESTICIDE exposure. Here we see that PESTICIDES and Folic Acid seem to be connected to Autism...but how?
■ Combined Exposures to Prenatal Pesticides and Folic Acid Intake in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Friday, May 13, 2016
Many pesticides are neurotoxic by design and some have been linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Periconceptional folic acid (FA) is associated with reduced ASD risk. In animal studies, maternal FA provides protection from environmental chemicals with developmental toxicity.
We examined combined exposures to maternal FA and selected pesticides, both in-home and agricultural, in relation to ASD risk..... Women with <800 µg FA intake and regular exposure (for 6+ pregnancy months) to indoor pesticides had children with elevated ASD risk (OR=5.1, 95% CI: 2.3-11.4). This was over twice that of those with 800+ µg FA and regular pesticide exposure (OR=2.3, 1.3-4.1). ORs for combined low maternal FA intake and any exposure to agricultural pesticides 3 months before or after conception were: 1.6 (0.6-4.4) for chlorpyrifos, 2.1 (1.0-4.4) for organophosphates, 1.9 (0.9-4.1) for pyrethroids, and 2.1 (0.7-5.9) for carbamates. Except for carbamates, these ORs were larger than those for combinations of pesticide exposure with higher FA intake. All results were consistent with joint multiplicative or additive effects.
Supplemental FA could potentially reduce the risk of ASD associated with pesticide exposure. Larger studies and research on potential mechanisms are warranted.....
OK...and here is the most recent--- almost the exact study again for 2017.
■ Folic acid may mitigate autism risk from pesticides, September 8, 2017
In the study, children whose mothers took 800 or more micrograms of folic acid (the amount in most prenatal vitamins) had a significantly lower risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) -- even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides associated with increased risk. The study appears today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives....While folic acid did reduce the associated risk of a child developing autism, it did not entirely eliminate it.
"It would be better for women to avoid chronic pesticide exposure if they can while pregnant," Schmidt said.
Here is the full study: Combined Prenatal Pesticide Exposure and Folic Acid Intake in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/EHP604.alt_.pdf
Interesting yet...confusing. Take Folic Acid or not. Stay away from Pesticides while pregnant [ and what about eating and the concern of Pesticides in food?] Intriguing research is unfolding more and more about the role of the gut, and the bacterial and viral issues in AUTISM. Folate may be a part of that equation.
The mechanism of PESTICIDE exposure may target the gut bacteria:
The gut microbiota: a major player in the toxicity of environmental pollutants?
There is clear evidence that bacteria-dependent metabolism of pollutants modulates the toxicity for the host. Conversely, environmental contaminants from various chemical families have been shown to alter the composition and/or the metabolic activity of the gastrointestinal bacteria, which may be an important factor contributing to shape an individual’s microbiotype. The physiological consequences of these alterations have not been studied in details but pollutant-induced alterations of the gut bacteria are likely to contribute to their toxicity. In conclusion, there is a body of evidence suggesting that gut microbiota are a major, yet underestimated element that must be considered to fully evaluate the toxicity of environmental contaminants....
...Pesticide is a generic term that includes herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and antimicrobials. Thousands of different chemicals are used as pesticides, and human exposure to these pesticides is widespread. The most frequently used chemical families are organochlorines, organophosphates, carbamates, triazines and pyrethroids. Little is known about the role of the gut microbiota on their metabolism........Recent evidence suggests that both alterations of microbial colonisation during the perinatal period and early-life exposure to environmental chemicals may promote dysregulated immune responses. 86,87,88 It therefore seems plausible that exposure to chemicals may affect the normal colonisation of the gut by bacteria, with effects on host physiology later in life.
Our Founding Editor, Dan Olmsted, wrote this, The Age of Autism: Ground Zero, ten years ago. Brilliant investigations about the cause of Autism.
Wellman was experimenting with plant fungi and ways to kill them, and his extensive archive makes clear one compound he studied was ethyl mercury fungicide -- the exact kind also used in the controversial vaccine preservative thimerosal...
This suggests a new and deeply disturbing truth about the Age of Autism: our fate is not in our genes, Dear Brutus, but in the chemicals that increasingly pollute our world and our children.
Teresa Conrick is Science Editor for Age of Autism.