Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Folic acid supplements in early pregnancy may reduce the risk of severe language delay in children

Research has established that taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy reduces the risk of bearing a child with neural tube defects, but little is known about the relationship between prenatal folic acid and neurodevelopment after birth.

A collaborative study between investigators at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has now reported that mothers who took folic acid supplements from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after conception reported a significantly lower prevalence of severe language delay in their children at age 3. The study was based in a unique Norwegian pregnancy cohort often referred to as "MoBa".

The full study findings are published online in the October 12 issue of JAMA.

The current analysis included 19,956 boys and 18,998 girls. Of these children, 204 (0.5%) were rated as having severe language delay, defined as minimal expressive language, only 1-word or unintelligible utterances. Among women who took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy, the reported prevalence of such delay was 0.4%, but among the approximately 9,000 children whose mothers took no folic acid, the delay was more than twice as common: 0.9% (81 children).

Across the entire sample, severe language delays were four times more common in boys than girls, as is typically the case.

"Unlike the United States, Norway does not fortify foods with folic acid—a fact that increases the contrast between women who do and do not take folic acid supplements and makes Norway a good place to study this effect," noted lead author Christine Roth, Clin.Psy.D., MSc, of the Division of Mental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo and a visiting researcher at the Mailman School. "If in future research this relationship were shown to be causal, it would have important implications for understanding the biological processes underlying disrupted neurodevelopment, for the prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders, and for policies of folic acid supplementation for women of reproductive age," said senior author Dr. Susser, director of the Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Life Course Studies, of the Mailman School of Public Health and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Pregnant women were recruited for the study beginning in 1999, and data were included on children born before 2008 whose mothers returned the 3-year follow-up questionnaire by June 2010. The primary outcome measured for the study was children's language competency at age 3 years as gauged by maternal report on a 6-point ordinal language grammar scale.

Researchers also looked at gross motor skills at age 3 and found no relationship between significant motor delays and prenatal folic acid. "This provides some reassurance that there is not confounding by an unmeasured factor," the authors observed. "Such a factor might be expected to relate to both language and motor delay."

The study, if corroborated by further research, could help further scientific understanding of the biology of language development. The researchers plan to pursue this question further with stringent tests of whether the relationship is causal, studies of the hypothesized mechanisms, and detailed follow-ups of the children at age 5.

The study was funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

About Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922 as one of the first three public health academies in the nation, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,000 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit

Columbia Psychiatry & NYS Psychiatric Institute

Columbia Psychiatry is ranked among the best departments and psychiatric research facilities in the nation and has contributed greatly to the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Located at the New York State Psychiatric Institute on the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center campus in northern Manhattan, the department enjoys a rich and productive collaborative relationship with physicians in various disciplines at Columbia University's College of Physician's and Surgeons. Columbia Psychiatry is home to distinguished clinicians and researchers noted for their clinical and research advances in the diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and childhood psychiatric disorders. The 2000 Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel was recognized for research that helped elucidate the cellular processes that underlie learning and memory — contributions that have implications for treating conditions such as Alzheimer's and age-related memory loss. Columbia Psychiatry's extraordinary scientific base is supported by more federal grants than any other psychiatry department in the nation.

Stephanie Berger | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>