Consumption of folic acid-enriched flour products before and during pregnancy may help to stabilize postnatal brain development. This is proven by studies of 1,370 US children and adolescents aged 8-18 years, whose maternally nutrition were rich in folic acid (1). Images from magnetic resonance imaging showed that the age-related thinning of the cerebral cortex started later than in others whose mothers had a lower folic acid level. In addition, the adolescents suffered less often from psychosis.
The study results from the Massachusetts General Hospital thus confirm that a folic acid-enriched diet of mothers can prevent mental disorders in children (2). Preliminary examinations at Harvard Medical School in Boston have already shown that adequate folate maintenance can reduce the child’s risk of autism by up to 50%. A prerequisite for these positive effects is a sufficiently high folate level in the mother’s blood in the first few weeks of pregnancy, a developmental stage crucial to the child’s psyche.
(1) H. Eryilmaz et al. Association of Prenatal Exposure to Population-Wide Folic Acid Fortification With Altered Cerebral Cortex Maturation in Youths. JAMA Psychiatry. July 2018 3 doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1381, available at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2686139
(2) M. Bjørk et al. Association of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy with the risk of autistic traits in children exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero. JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(2):160-168, available at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2666188