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Folic acid during pregnancy may reduce risk of childhood tumours

October 22, 2012

Children of mothers who take folic acid supplements during pregnancy may have a significantly lower risk of developing brain tumors during childhood, says a new Australian study.

The observational study used food frequency questionnaires to assess the potential relationship between the folic acid intake of 1194 mothers during pregnancy and cases of brain tumors in their children (1). The study results showed that mothers who had used folic acid and multivitamin supplements before and in early preg-nancy had children with a reduced risk of up to 45% of developing a brain tumor.

The researchers commented that according to known mechanisms it is biologically plausible that a reduced risk of childhood brain tumors could be associated with maternal folic acid supplementation. Women of child-bearing age need sufficient body stores of folate before conception to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs). Increased intake of folate before pregnancy promotes ovarian stimulation and follicular development since these are subject to the availability of folate.

References

  1. Milne E. et al. Maternal use of Folic Acid and Other Supplements and Risk of Childhood Brain Tumors. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Published online October 2012.