PREGNANT women who take folate from as early as conception can reduce their risk of giving birth to an autistic child, a university study has found.
More than 85,000 Norwegian women took part in a study on the benefit of folic acid supplements between 2002 and 2008.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed women who took supplements from as early as possible were less likely to have a child with autism.
Diagnosis rates for autism have significantly increased in the past two decades.
Folic acid has long been associated with reducing the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida.
Western Australian child health researcher Andrew Whitehouse told News Lmtd the study did not prove folic acid eliminated the risk of autism but suggested it could reduce the risk of more serious cases.
He said the results could open the door for studies on the link between folate and reduced risk of other neuro-development disorders like ADHD and schizophrenia.