Expecting mothers who take folic acid supplements all through their pregnancy in a well-intentioned attempt to boost infant’s health may be increasing their risk of having a child with asthma. Atleast this is what a novel research from The University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute claims.
Researchers were believed to have recognized a link between folic acid supplements taken in late pregnancy and allergic asthma in children aged between 3 and 5 years. Moreover, they suggest that the timing of supplementation in pregnancy seems to be essential.
Associate Professor Michael Davies, from The University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute stated that folic acid supplements which are recommended for pregnant women to prevent birth defects could possibly have ‘additional and unexpected’ consequences that have been shown in latest researches in mice and infants.
“In our study, supplemental folic acid in late pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of asthma in children, but there was no evidence to suggest any adverse effects if supplements were taken in early pregnancy,” elucidates Associate Professor Davies.
For the purpose of better understanding this criterion, researchers were believed to have examined maternal diet and supplements of more than 500 women. This investigation was noted to have been done twice during their pregnancy, with follow-up on their child’s asthma status at 3.5 years and 5.5 years.
The researchers found that asthma seems to have been reported in nearly 11.6% of children at 3.5 years. In addition, 11.8% of children were observed to have reported it at 5.5 years. Moreover, approximately one third of these children appear to have accounted persistent asthma.
Current public health guidelines recommend that women may perhaps be consuming a supplemental dose of about 400 micrograms of folic acid each day in the previous month. Also, they seem to take folic acid during the first trimester of pregnancy in order to decrease the risk of neural tube defects in children.
“Our study supports these guidelines, as we found no increased risk of asthma if folic acid supplements were taken in pre or early pregnancy. However, these guidelines may need to be expanded to include recommendations about avoiding use of high dose supplemental folic acid in late pregnancy,” says Associate Professor Davies.
He further said that their research appears to have found no evidence to link asthma with dietary folate, which is found in green, leafy vegetables, certain fruits and nuts. Nearly half of all mothers in the research were believed to have taken a folic acid supplement pre-pregnancy. Additionally, approximately 56% appear to have met the required daily dosage of 400 micrograms in early pregnancy.
Associate Professor Davies was of the opinion that these findings show there is a possible important critical period during which folic acid supplement dosages could be manipulated in order to optimise their neuro-protective effects even as not increasing the risk of asthma.
The findings of the research have been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.