Prenatal Folic Acid Cuts Severe Language Delay in Offspring

Children of mothers taking prenatal folic acid have lower risk of severe language delay

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal use of prenatal folic acid supplementation before conception and in early pregnancy is correlated with a reduced risk of severe language delay in offspring at age 3 years, according to a study published in the Oct. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Christine Roth, Clin.Psy.D., from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, and colleagues investigated the association between maternal folic acid supplement intake from four weeks before to eight weeks after conception and the risk of severe language delay in offspring at age 3 years. Data were collected for 38,954 children born before 2008 whose mothers returned the age 3-years questionnaire by June 2010. Language competency was assessed by maternal reports on a six-point ordinal language grammar scale. A severe language delay was rated as minimal expressive language (only one-word or unintelligible utterances).

The investigators found that severe language delay was reported in 204 (0.5 percent) children. In the reference group, comprising 9,052 children of women who took no supplements, 0.9 percent developed severe language delay. Among children exposed to maternal dietary supplements other than folic acid, folic acid only, and folic acid with other supplements, severe language delay occurred in 0.9, 0.4 and 0.4 percent, respectively. The corresponding adjusted odds ratios were 1.04 (95 percent CI, 0.62 to 1.74), 0.55 (95 percent CI, 0.35 to 0.86) and 0.55 (95 percent CI, 0.39 to 0.78), respectively.

"Maternal use of folic acid supplements in early pregnancy was associated with a reduced risk of severe language delay in children at age 3 years," the authors write.

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