Folic Acid Fortification, Increase in MTHFR and Rise in Autism?

by Dr Lynch on May 11, 2012 in MTHFR and Pregnancy

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If we sit back and evaluate the dates when folic acid fortification began and the fast rise of autism – do
they correlate?
“In Spain, the prevalence of the MTHFR 677TT genotype has reportedly approximately doubled in
the population since the introduction in 1982 of folic acid supplements for women in early
“Folic acid fortification and supplement use might be “a genetic time bomb.” The first premise of
this dramatic claim, that folic acid use increases the proportion of children born with the T allele of
MTHFR, is as yet poorly documented and is clearly in urgent need of further study.
Studies of the MTHFR genotype frequencies in children before and after fortification should be
carried out in countries planning fortification of food with folic acid. Thus, saving fetuses that have
a genetic constitution that favors abortion or nonsurvival could lead to children being born with
genotypes that favor increased disease during life””[1]
Folic acid fortification started heavily in 1992.[2]
Autism began to quickly rise in 1993.
In the early 1990s, autism diagnoses began to soar. In the 10 years between 1993 and 2003, the
number of American schoolchildren with autism diagnoses increased by over 800%. In 2006, the
CDC noted a slight decrease in the number of new cases diagnosed.[3]
Autism began to rise at the same time folic acid fortification began.
Is the rise of autism due to an increased survival rate of babies with MTHFR defects?
Countless children with autism have at least one bad allele of MTHFR – and many have two. Amy Yasko
has yet to see any child with autism without a bad MTHFR allele. If you have – please correct me. [Amy
Yasko’s book]
Are we doing the right thing in ‘optimizing pregnancies’ when in the end, we are actually creating
weakened genetics and having babies born with various genetic mutations that cause them to have
serious medical conditions later in life – or early on.
Folic acid supplementation while pregnant is old news.
Women need to supplement with L-5- MTHF and Folinic acid – not folic acid.

This is a huge discussion and one that is very interesting to me – esp since my work with MTHFR over
the last year.

Now – I’m going to throw a curve ball and make it more confusing.

If you look at current research on women supplementing with prenatals, the risk for having a child with
autism goes down.[5]
Mothers of children with autism were less likely than those of typically developing children to
report having taken prenatal vitamins during the 3 months before pregnancy or the first month of
pregnancy (OR = 0.62 [95% confidence interval = 0.42-0.93]). Significant interaction effects were
observed for maternal MTHFR 677 TT, CBS rs234715 GT + TT, and child COMT 472 AA genotypes,
with greater risk for autism when mothers did not report taking prenatal vitamins
periconceptionally (4.5 [1.4-14.6]; 2.6 [1.2-5.4]; and 7.2 [2.3-22.4], respectively). Greater risk was
also observed for children whose mothers had other one-carbon metabolism pathway gene
variants and reported no prenatal vitamin intake.
This is conflicting – or is it?
If pregnant woman supplement with a prenatal, risk for autism goes down? Yes.
Yet, folic acid fortification is causing an increased prevalence of MTHFR defects which may be a trigger
for autism? Yes.
How can both be yes?
It is a balancing act and they are correlated.
If a woman supplements with a prenatal while pregnant, her methylation pathways are more likely to
function. This allows the fetus to properly grow and also lessens the toxicity of the womb by reducing
toxic burden.
Yet, this same prenatal that is fortified is also increasing the prevalence of MTHFR defects in the
population because the baby now lives and is passed on the MTHFR defects.
UPDATE: December 4, 2012

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