If your gynecologist has recently confirmed your pregnancy, it would make sense to ask her/him if you could start folic acid supplements. Though there is no novelty in the knowledge that folic acid bestows benefits on the brain development of the fetus of mothers-to-be, and prevents conditions like spina bifida, an added dimension to the advantage has now been discovered.
Scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo have now confirmed, based on their study, that pregnant women who took folic acid supplements between four and eight weeks of conception reduced the risk of having their child develop severe language delay at three years, by half. (1)
The study was led by Christine Roth, M.Sc., Clin.Psy.D and its findings were published in the Journal of American Medical Association in October this year. Pregnant women were recruited to conduct the study.
The study took in data of children born prior to 2008. A follow-up questionnaire was then sent three years on in 2010 to the mothers. The mothers rated their children’s language grammar skills on a 6-point scale. Children with minimal expressive language (only one-word or unintelligible utterances) were rated as having severe language delay. (2)
Roth said, “Unlike the United States, Norway does not fortify foods with folic acid, increasing the contrast in relative folate status between women who do and do not take folic acid supplements.” (1)
The study was conducted on close to 40,000 pregnant women. The findings suggested that there was a marked reduction in the chances of a child having severe language delay at age three years.
However, it was also noted that a mother’s intake of folic acid during the same period (between fourth to eighth week of conception) made any difference to the delay in her child’s gross motor skills at three years.
The authors of the study stressed that should this relationship be found to be causal in times to come, it would mean there is an immediate need to comprehend the biological processes that play culprit in suboptimal neurodevelopment.