A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association this week showed mothers who took folic acid supplements prior to and early on during pregnancy had up to a 40 percent lower risk of having a child who developed autism.

The study was conducted in Norway and looked at more than 85,000 children. The findings provide further support for folic acid supplementation for women of childbearing age, who should consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. In the U.S., grain millers fortify grains with folic acid specifically to help prevent neural tube defects.

Since the Food and Drug Administration first required folic acid fortification of enriched grains in 1998, the number of babies born in the U.S. with neural-tube birth defects has declined by approximately one-third. More about folic acid enrichment is available from the Grain Foods Foundation at http://www.gowiththegrain.org/nutrition/enriched-grains.php.

The study is available at http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1570279.