Folic acid supplements taken during pregnancy may benefit toddler behaviour, says research which shows that they can help prevent behavioural problems.
The results were presented by Dr Henning Tiemeier at 11th European Nutrition Conference in Madrid (26th-29th October 2011).
“We know that folic acid is important in the prevention of spinal cord defects” noted Dr Tiemeier “but we wanted to investigate what happens later in childhood, to emotional and behavioural development”.
Many countries in Europe recommend taking folic acid supplements before pregnancy and during the first three months. Dr Tiemeier demonstrated that a lack of use of folic acid supplements in early pregnancy, despite existing recommendations, is linked to a higher risk of the development of emotional problems, withdrawn behaviour, by 18 months.
Dr Tiemeier and his colleagues at Erasmus are one of 20 partners in Europe and the US taking part in the €8m European Commission funded Nutrimenthe project, which is looking at how the diet of pregnant women, babies and children affects their mental performance.
Folic acid is just one nutrient of interest to the project. Others include Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, and how these affect mental performance of children in the long term.
The 11th European Nutrition Conference took place in Madrid between 26th and 29th October 2011 and attracted over 2000 nutrition experts from countries worldwide under the banner “Diversity versus Globalisation: A Nutritional Challenge for a Changing Europe” Nutrimenthe hosted a symposium on 28th October titled “Nutrition and Cognitive Function”