Multivitamins during pregnancy could lower risk of some types of autism

Maternal multivitamin use with or without additional iron or folic acid was associated with lower odds of autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability in the child.

Ultrasound of baby

It is thought that maternal nutrition could influence the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but results from research have been inconsistent.

In a study in the BMJ (5 October 2017), researchers used data on 273,107 mother-child pairs in Stockholm, Sweden, to assess the impact of multivitamin, iron and folic acid supplement use on the prevalence of ASD at age 4–15 years[1]

The team found that maternal multivitamin use during pregnancy, with or without iron or folic acid, was associated with a lower odds of ASD with intellectual disability compared with no nutritional supplementation (odds ratio: 0.69, 95% confidence interval 0.57 to 0.84). However, evidence that either iron or folic acid use were inversely associated with ASD was inconsistent.

The results indicate there could potentially be an inverse relationship between maternal multivitamin supplement use and the development of ASD with intellectual disability in offspring, but further investigation is needed, the team concluded.


[1] DeVilbiss E, Magnusson C, Gardner R et al. Antenatal nutritional supplementation and autism spectrum disorders in the Stockholm youth cohort: population based cohort study. BMJ 2017; 359: j4273. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j4273

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, January 2018, Vol 10, No 1;10(1):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203966

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