Researchers say the earlier, the better when it comes to taking prenatals and preventing autism.
Studies for years now have emphasized that prenatal vitamins are crucial before and after conceiving. But a new study says vitamins have even more importance: They help cut the autism risk in your baby, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"Women who reported not taking prenatal vitamins immediately before and during a pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child with autism," the L.A. Times quoted the UC Davis study, which was published in the journal Epidemiology. The study, which examined 700 California families with children from 2003 to 2009, reveals that women with a mutation in a high-risk gene were seven times as likely to have a child with this developmental disorder.
The researchers also discovered "that mothers who took vitamins prenatally or during the first month of pregnancy were only half as likely to have a child with autism as those who didn't" take these supplements, according to the L.A. Times. There was no effect for moms-to-be who started taking the vitamins in the second month of pregnancy.
The benefits of prenatal vitamins in a fetus's mental and physical development are crucial because they reduce the risk of birth defects and disease in newborns. Vitamins help everything from bone growth to reducing the risk of neural-tube defects such as spina bifida.
A good prenatal vitamin helps you get the necessary nutrients that your diet may lack while you're expecting. Check out our Prenatal Vitamins Made Easy page to help you choose a good supplement.
However, pills can't do the job alone! There are other ways to get the nutrients you need as a mom-to-be. Head over to our Prenatal Vitamins page to read about alternative methods of getting necessary vitamins.