home
RSS
Folic acid may protect language development
October 11th, 2011
05:36 PM ET

Folic acid may protect language development

Mothers who take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy greatly reduce the risk of their children having severe language delays, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Compared with mothers who took no folic acid supplements, mothers who took them starting from four weeks before pregnancy reduced the risk that their children would have severe language delays by age 3, the researchers found.  The risk was cut in half– and that's after researchers controlled for maternal education, weight, and socio-demographic factors.

Interestingly, mothers who took other supplements, but not folic acid, saw no risk reduction, signaling that folic acid has a unique effect on the child's development.

Although the benefits of folic acid in protecting against neural tube defects has long been documented in medical studies, this research is further evidence that the supplements may protect against other neurodevelopment disorders as well.

Researchers used Norwegian mothers and children for the study, in part because the comprehensive health care systems found in Scandinavian countries including Norway make it easier to do large epidemiological studies, but also because Norway does not add folic acid supplements to foods.

In the United States, flours are typically fortified with folic acid, a significant difference between the American diet and the diet of the mothers studied.

Still, Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director of the March of Dimes, says that mothers should not rely solely on folic acid from fortified foods.

"We've always recommended supplements because fortified foods, although they do give us some folic acid, it really doesn't reach the 400 micrograms that we recommend for all women of child-bearing age" says Fleischman.

"We still don't actually know the mechanism by which folic acid protects against neural tube defects. But it's another additional reason women should take supplements."

The study tracked about 40,000 Norwegian children with 0.5% of them having a severe language delay, meaning those children could make only one-word or unintelligible utterances at age 3.


soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. утилизация аккумуляторов

    О! I love this, one of the best I have seen on this site. So luxurious and striking.

    October 11, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Say what?

      Disposal of batteries?

      October 12, 2011 at 07:28 | Report abuse |
    • teresa

      ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......???

      October 17, 2011 at 22:26 | Report abuse |
  2. mercenary76

    folic acid does not occur naturally , how would it help anything much .natural folates however might .

    October 12, 2011 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kim

    Hmmm, wonder if low folic acid intake is related to autism? It's hard to get enough from diet alone, especially when eating SAD.

    October 12, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Auth

      This is the number one otseuiqn I got asked while I was pregnant and still get asked to this day! It frustrates me to know end as I was taking folic acid months before I even got pregnant. This can still happen to your child even though you do everything right . Sometimes God has different plans for you and it just goes to show that He is in control. These children are amazing and I feel privileged I was trusted to be the mother of one of them.

      March 4, 2012 at 07:45 | Report abuse |
  4. FEEBIE

    i took folic acid for 2 years before & all during pregnancy. my son is 4 & completely nonverbal. those statistics don't mean much to us!

    October 12, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. justme

    Me too- I took more than the 400 mcg with both my kids and they have experienced language delays...it has to be more than just folic acid....

    October 12, 2011 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ian

    It is almost certainly more than just folic acid. The study concluded that folic acid might offer some protection. That doesn't mean that there aren't numerous other factors at play. Human physiology is remarkably complex and fetal development makes it even more so. Based on this complexity, it seems that many factors must each have some differing level of influence on this protection.

    October 13, 2011 at 00:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Luke

    If anyone is concerned about speech and language development for their child they should read the developmental information on HomeSpeechHome. They cover speech and language developmental milestones in simple depth for children ages 0-11 years old.

    http://www.home-speech-home.com/index.html

    October 13, 2011 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jorge

    Well then, it seems as if a lot of mothers here in the Deep South have been folate-deficient for the longest time, it took me a month to be able to make out the slooooow Foghornleghornpootietangese that regularly passes for English here, and even longer to get over the local redaction and spelling skills without bewilderment. I've been bilingually literate since childhood, but these folks seem to have a full plate with just one language...

    October 13, 2011 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Molly

    FSDYFHUSDAIYHFASIUDYFUIASDHFUSDGIULZATGSFDGFAYSDUFGSDHFNMASD

    October 13, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. teresa

    ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......?

    October 17, 2011 at 22:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sherron Alquijay

    I always take folic acid through B100 vitamin B complex supplement. B-vitamins are really necessary to our body. `

    Please do take a peek at our favorite blog
    http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/essential-amino-acids-list/

    November 4, 2012 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Teena Mole

    |

    http://2.12.13.co.uk

    December 1, 2013 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.