Lifespan Nutrition

Bill Sardi Health Blog

  • In an attempt to prevent birth defects, did we accidentally induce autism?

    This is an awful development.  Did efforts to reduce birth defects (spina bifida, anencephaly) by provision of mega-dose folic acid to women prior to and during pregnancy induce the autism epidemic?  Mothers with very high folate levels at delivery are twice as likely to have a child with autism.  High vitamin B12 levels tripled the risk.  Mothers with excess folate and B12 were 17 times more likely to have an autistic child!  [Medscape May 11, 2016]  Health authorities had to quickly respond and advise fertile women not to back away from folic acid supplements altogether and trade one disease for another.  So they immediately issued advice for fertile women to stick with taking 400-800 mcg of folic acid (not 5000 mcg). [TIME Magazine May 12, 2016]  After a child is deemed to be autistic, folic acid supplements appear to be beneficial for autistic children. [Nutrients June 7, 2016]

    The epidemiological studies citing a protective effect for folic acid in multivitamins in the prevention of birth defects were published in 1988-89, the very years an EPA report noted the rate of autism skyrocketed. [Council Responsible Nutrition; Huffington Post]  A pregnancy advice website says “there is not yet any scientific evidence to show whether high dose folic acid (5 milligrams or 5000 micrograms) is any better than the standard dose (400 micrograms). [Medicines Pregnancy Org.]  The use of mega-dose folic acid to prevent birth defects was first reported in the early 1980s.  [Canadian Medical Assn. Journal 1993]