Folic Acid May Reduce Risk of Autism Associated With Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California

Dr. Schmidt

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences
UC Davis California

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Maternal folic acid taken near conception has been linked to reduced risk for autism in the child in previous studies.

Separate studies show that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for autism.

Animal studies demonstrate that folic acid and other B-vitamins can attenuate effects of certain environmental contaminants, including pesticides.

This case-control study examined combined maternal folic acid and pesticide exposures in relation to autism in the child.

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Folic Acid May Reduce Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Fan Fan Hou Chief, Division of Nephrology, Nanfang Hospital Professor of Medicine, Southern Medical UniversityFan Fan Hou MD
Chief, Division of Nephrology, Nanfang Hospital
Professor of Medicine, Southern Medical University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previous trials (HOST and DIVINe) of folic acid therapy in CKD patients were conducted in patients with advanced CKD and treated with super-high dose of vitamin B or with cyanocobalamin that has been shown to be renal toxic. The current study sought to evaluated the efficacy of folic acid therapy without cyanocobalamin on renal outcomes in patients without folic acid fortification and across a spectrum of renal function at baseline from normal to moderate CKD.

We found that treatment with enalapril-folic acid, as compared with enalapril alone, reduced the risk of progression of CKD by 21% and the rate of eGFR decline by 10% in hypertensive patients. More importantly, the presence of CKD at baseline was a significant modifier of the treatment effect (p for interaction = 0.01). Patients with CKD benefited most from the folic acid therapy, with a 56% and 44% reduction in the risk for progression of CKD and the rate of eGFR decline, respectively. In contrast, the renal protective effect in those without CKD was nominal.

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More Women Of Reproductive Age Need Folic Acid To Prevent Birth Defects

Jennifer Williams MSN, MPH, FNP-BC National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities CDC, Atlanta, Georgia MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer Williams MSN, MPH, FNP-BC

National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
CDC, Atlanta, Georgia

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Neural tube defects are serious birth defects of the brain and spine that can cause significant disability and death. Studies have shown that taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy can reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects. Therefore, in 1992, the US Public Health Service (USPHS) recommended that all women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant consume 400mcg of folic acid per day to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. To help women meet this requirement, in 1998 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that folic acid be added to enriched grain products for the prevention of neural tube defects.

This study looks at how many neural tube defects have been prevented annually since folic acid fortification. Using data from birth defects tracking systems, researchers found that since folic acid fortification, the birth prevalence of neural tube defects has decreased by 35% in the United States, which translates to about 1,300 babies that are born each year without a neural tube defect who might otherwise have been affected.  This study also reports that the number of babies born with a neural tube defect annually differs by the mother’s race/ethnicity. Hispanic mothers continue to be at the highest risk for having a baby with a neural tube defect.

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Many Pregnant Women Have Not Taken Folic Acid to Reduce Neural Tube Defects

Prof. Nicholas J. Wald Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry Queen Mary University of London London, United KingdomMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Nicholas J. Wald
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine
Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Queen Mary University of London
London, United Kingdom

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Prof Wald: The percentage of women who become pregnant without having taken folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of a neural tube defect declined from a relatively low proportion (35%) to an even lower one (31%) between 1999 and 2012.

Moreover such use of folic acid in some groups of the population is much lower for example 17% in Afro-Caribbean women and 6% in women aged under 20.
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