A new report underscores the importance of taking prenatal vitamins early in pregnancy, and even before you get pregnant. The study, to be published in the July issue of Epidemiology, found that mothers who took the vitamins before getting pregnant or during the first month of pregnancy were half as likely to later have a child with autism as those who didn't. However, for women who began taking prenatal vitamins in the second month of pregnancy, there was no effect, which suggests that by the time many women learn they are pregnant, it’s too late for the vitamins to provide a benefit in terms of autism. The study was based on about 700 families who had 2- to 5-year-olds with autism.
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The study also found increased risk for women who had two particular gene mutations when coupled with failure to take vitamins. One is the variant of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which when coupled with no early prenatal vitamin intake, had a 4.5 times greater than normal risk of having a child with autism. Women with the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene had a seven times greater risk when they didn’t take their prenatals early on.
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