Brief Report: Are Autistic-Behaviors in Children Related to Prenatal Vitamin Use and Maternal Whole Blood Folate Concentrations?


Prenatal multivitamin/folic acid supplement use may reduce the risk of autism spectrum disorders. We investigated whether 2nd trimester prenatal vitamin use and maternal whole blood folate (WBF) concentrations were associated with Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) scores at 4–5 years of age in a prospective cohort of 209 mother–child pairs. After confounder adjustment, children born to women taking prenatal vitamins weekly/daily (n = 179) had lower odds of clinically elevated SRS scores (odds ratio 0.26; 95 % confidence interval 0.08, 0.89) than those who rarely/never took them (n = 30). WBF concentrations were not associated with SRS scores. The lack of association between WBF and autistic-behaviors may be due to the timing of biomarker measures relative to critical periods of brain development, confounding, or other modifying factors.

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Autism spectrum disorders


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


95 % Confidence interval


Odds ratio


Standard deviation


Social Responsiveness Scale


Whole blood folate


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This work was supported by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grants R00 ES020346, PO1 ES11261, R01 ES014575, and R01 ES020349.

Conflict of interest

Dr. Lanphear has served as an expert witness and as a consultant to the California Attorney General’s Office, but he has not personally received any compensation for these services. Dr. Lanphear has also served as a consultant on a US Environmental Protection Agency research study which he does receive compensation. Dr. Braun was financially compensated for conducting a re-analysis of the international pooled study of lead exposure for the plaintiffs in a public nuisance case.

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Correspondence to Joseph M. Braun.

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Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Braun, J.M., Froehlich, T., Kalkbrenner, A. et al. Brief Report: Are Autistic-Behaviors in Children Related to Prenatal Vitamin Use and Maternal Whole Blood Folate Concentrations?. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 2602–2607 (2014).

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  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Folate
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal vitamins