Multivitamins in Pregnancy May Be Associated With Lower Autism Risk Interview with:
Elizabeth DeVilbiss, PhD MPH
Dornsife School of Public Health
Drexel University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Unfortunately, not much is known about how diet during pregnancy affects autism risk.  There have been studies in recent years about varied aspects of diet during pregnancy and autism risk involving multivitamins, iron, folic acid, vitamin D, and more, but the evidence is still inconclusive.

After adjusting for several potentially influencing factors in both mothers and children, we found that multivitamin use, with or without additional iron and/or folic acid, was associated with a lower likelihood of child autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability relative to mothers who did not use folic acid, iron, and multivitamins. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Causality cannot be inferred from a single study, especially when prior studies have reported conflicting findings.  Given the current understanding and strength of evidence supporting the importance of nutritional supplementation during pregnancy, these results on their own should not change current practice What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Additional research is needed. These findings could inform future studies, ideally with improved assessment of maternal diet during pregnancy and in a randomized trial setting, and focusing on whether these findings are related to autism, intellectual disability, or both.  If there is a causal relationship, we also need to understand whether there is a critical window for exposure, and what specific nutrients and amounts may be required for protection. 

No disclosures Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Elizabeth A DeVilbiss, Cecilia Magnusson, Renee M Gardner, Dheeraj Rai, Craig J Newschaffer, Kristen Lyall, Christina Dalman, Brian K Lee. Antenatal nutritional supplementation and autism spectrum disorders in the Stockholm youth cohort: population based cohort study. BMJ, 2017; j4273 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.j4273

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on October 17, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD