Can folic acid help lower the risk of autism?

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Can folic acid help decrease the risk of autism?

On Wednesday's Good Morning Arizona, Dr. Art Mollen talked to Kaley O'Kelley about a new study that suggests when a woman takes folic acid before she becomes pregnant, or during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, it can help decrease her child's risk of autism.  

"We know that prenatal vitamins are particularly important," Dr. Mollen says. "But this is the first time that we have learned that it may actually help lower the risk of autism."

The key is starting to take the folic acid early, well before a woman thinks she is pregnant. Dr. Art recommends 400 micrograms a day. You can also take additional supplements and increase that amount.

"The risk of autism occurs in about one in every 88 children born in the United States, so this lowers the risk by 39 percent," Dr. Mollen tells us. "So that's a significant improvement."

Some experts say more research needs to be done to confirm the link.