Taking Folic Acid Can Impact the Development of a Child’s Brain

Women have long been told to increase their folic acid intake when they become pregnant. It is known that folic acid protects developing against some birth defects, but it’s know said that folic acid supports the development of the brain throughout the teenage years.

For more than 20 years, doctors have stated that exposure to folic acid can protect the developing fetus for issues like spinal bifida and other neural tube defects. New research findings show a link between prenatal folic acid use and the improvement in brain health for children. The brain health improvement is due to the changes in the development of the brain.

The researchers looked at the connections between the maturation of the brain’s cortex, exposure to prenatal folic acid, and the risk of psychiatric issues in kids between the ages of 8 to 18 years old before, during, and after governments moved to implement folic acid fortification into grains.

The brain cortex thickness was greater in children born after the folic acid fortification was implemented and lowest in children born before the folic acid fortification.

When the brain reaches full size, the cortex starts to lose its thickness. The delay in the thinning of the cortex is associated with higher intelligence. Researchers believe that the accelerated thinning of the cortex is associated with autism and schizophrenia. Folic acid fortification is said to slow the thinning of the brain cortex.

Women of child-bearing age have been encouraged to take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. Unfortunately, most women don’t take folic acid supplements. Also, less than half of the world lives in an area that requires folic acid fortification of grain products.

The results of the research show that prenatal folic acid has a lasting effect on brain health that extends past the prevention of neural tube defect prevention.

Researchers are hoping that their study compels wider use of folic acid during pregnancy. Folic acid is safe for mother and child, inexpensive, and easily available. The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that women of childbearing age take 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. Folic acid can have a lasting effect on the child’s brain.