A recent study from the researchers of Norwegian Institute of Public Health suggests that children whose mothers took folic acid supplements early in pregnancy were less likely to have severe language delays at the age of 3.
According to the study published in Journal of the American Medical Association, the mother's use of folic acid four to eight weeks after conception is associated with a reduced risk of severe language delays in the child.
The researchers conducted an observational study to examine the relation between the prenatal folic acid supplement and severe language delay in the children, which is supposed to be the first study of the question, according to the author.
Pregnant Norwegian women were recruited for the study from 1999 to 2008 and were surveyed regarding their supplement intake.
Later, when their offspring's were born and were nearly three years of age, the same women were asked about their childs' language and speaking skills.
The study revealed that out of the 38,954 children involved in the study, 204 had severe language delays. Of those, 103 were born to mothers who didn't take folic acid supplements during their early pregnancy.
The children whose mothers took folic acid before conception and in early pregnancy had a 45 percent lesser risk of the language disability at the age of 3.
Though, the research does not prove that folic acid itself prevents language delay but explains the association between the folic acid supplement in mothers with reduced language disability risk and its role in child's development.
Unlike the United States, Norway does not fortify foods with folic acid, increasing the contrast in relative folate status between women who do and do not take folic acid supplements, said the researchers of the study.
This shows that what you do during pregnancy ... is not only important for birth but also for subsequent development, researcher Dr. Ezra Susser told Reuters.
Folic acid and vitamin B12 are needed for normal growth and body functioning; for pregnant women it is advised to take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid and diet rich in folates, as it reduces the risk of miscarriage and protects the baby from birth defects and from developing a neutral tube defects.