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News - Low folate in pregnancy may lead to hyperactive kids

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

The development of a child’s brain during early pregnancy may be impaired by low folate levels in the mother, leading to behavioural problems and hyperactivity, says a new study.

During the trial, researchers measured the folate levels in 100 expectant women. Blood samples were tested at 14 weeks’ pregnancy and total folate intake from food and supplements was assessed in both early and late pregnancy. Once the children had reached eight to nine years of age, the mothers were asked to report on their children’s behavioural difficulties using a special questionnaire.

The results showed that low maternal levels of folate were associated with both higher childhood hyperactivity and peer problems. This ties in with research reported in the British Journal of Nutrition in September 2009 that found that children of mothers who took folic acid supplements during pregnancy were better at internalising and externalising problems, compared to the children of mothers who did not take supplements. 

Article References

Schlotz W et al. (2010) Lower maternal folate status in early pregnancy is associated with childhood hyperactivity and peer problems in offspring. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 51(5):594-602.

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