A new study on autism and nutrition suggests that the amount of iron consumed during pregnancy may affect the child's risk of developing autism. The research was reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Researchers from the University of California Davis MIND Institute interviewed mothers of children between the ages of two and five about their vitamin intake. Participants were asked about whether they had consumed vitamins before, during or after their pregnancy. The researchers specifically inquired about prenatal vitamins, multivitamins and supplements, along with how frequently they consumed the vitamins, how much and which brands.
After comparing mothers of 346 typical children with mothers of 520 children with autism spectrum disorder, they found that those in the former were more likely to have consumed more iron on a daily basis. They were also more likely to have taken iron supplements.
The mothers of autistic children were "significantly less likely" to report taking iron supplements throughout the various stages of pregnancy. In addition to assessing whether participants had consumed vitamins and supplements, the researchers also looked at their consumption of breakfast cereals.
"If this is replicated, it will reinforce that women should be following current specific recommendations for iron intake before they get pregnant, during pregnancy and during breastfeeding," said the study's lead author, Dr. Rebecca Schmidt, according to Reuters.
According to the authors, the replication of these results in other studies could demonstrate benefits of taking iron supplements during pregnancy. Schmidt additionally notes that iron deficiency is common, especially for women who have metabolic conditions.
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