A new study has found that consumption of prescribed iron supplements by pregnant women may play a significant role in lowering the risk of delivering baby with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
According to the researchers, the mothers of children having autism are expected to be deficient of iron supplements before and during pregnancy against their counterparts.
The study authors also found that mothers who are 35 year-of-age and above having low iron intake developed five times greater risk of giving birth to a child with autism.
For the study, the researchers included 520 mother-child pairs, in which children suffered autism, while another group of 346 pairs of mothers and typically developing kids. All the participants were registered in the California-based study called “Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE)”, conducted between 2003 and 2009.
The team assessed the participating mothers’ intake of iron, vitamins, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and other nutritional supplements during the three-month period before conception to the end of their pregnancy and also during breast-feeding days.
The researchers found that the iron intake by mothers of those children with autism was comparatively lower than those mothers having typically developing children.
The iron intake was low among the mothers was especially during the months before and during early pregnancy.
“The study is useful. It’s one more reason to take iron in pregnancy. It isn’t the ‘now-we-know-what-causes-ASD’ answer, but it offers one clue that some women with good iron intake still had kids with ASD,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park.
Yet Adesman was not part of the study.
According to the researchers, even if the study has showed link between low iron intake and the onset of ASD, it does not prove any cause and effect.
The findings of the study were published online on September 22 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.