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News - Folic acid in pregnancy may improve children’s language skills

By Nutri People

The benefits of folic acid in preventing birth defects have been known for a while, but now new research suggests that adequate folic acid in pregnancy may also help reduce the risk of a child having a severe language delay.

These new findings are part of an analysis of data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Pregnant women were recruited between 1999 and 2008 and asked to fill in questionnaires detailing their use of folic acid during pregnancy as well as their child’s language competency at age three. Children with minimal expressive language (only one-word or unintelligible utterances) were rated as having severe language delay.

When the results were analysed, the scientists found that the prevalence of severe language delay was significantly higher for children whose mothers took no dietary supplements during the four weeks before and eight weeks after conception (0.9%). Meanwhile, in the group of children born to mothers who supplemented with folic acid alone, or in combination with other nutrients during this 12-week window, the prevalence of severe language delay was less than half this at 0.4%. 

Article References

Roth C et al. Folic acid supplements in pregnancy and severe language delay in children. JAMA. 2011 Oct 12;306(14):1566-73

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