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 pregnancy”…
“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””
Folic acid fortification started heavily in 1992.
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.
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.
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
I’ve found further support for this medical hypothesis. I am pleased to see that researchers thought of looking into this far before I even conceived of the idea….and I thought I was onto something 🙂
A Researcher’s Hypothesis: MTHFR, Folic Acid and Autism Increase
What does the image above mean?
It means that if women did not supplement with increased levels of folic acid, they would miscarry due to undermethylation. The prevalence of MTHFR mutations would be less; the prevalence of undermethylated newborns would be less and thus, the prevalence of autistic children would be less.
Since women are now supplementing with increased levels of folic acid, they are more likely to carry to term and have improved methylation; however, once the infant is out of the enriched folic acid womb, it is on its own unless the parents supplement the infant with additional folate, b12 and other methylation support nutrients such as choline, b2 and b6.
If a women breastfeeds her infant – and continues to take her methylation support via prenatal and other nutrients, then the infant also has its methylation supported via the breast milk.
What happens when weaning occurs?
How much do we supplement the little one? How do we supplement? How do we measure and ensure proper neurological and immunological development?
These are questions we need answered from further research and clinical data.
I want to share with you exactly what a team of researchers stated about this medical hypothesis. In fact, the title of their theory is quite similar to what I named may May 2012 article: “Folic Acid Fortification, Increase in MTHFR and Rise in Autism?”
The title of their September 2008 paper:
“Has enhanced folate status during pregnancy altered natural selection and possibly Autism prevalence? A closer look at a possible link.”
I cannot summarize their study better than they, so here is their conclusion:
It is hypothesized here that the enhancement of maternal folate status before and during pregnancy in the last 15 years has altered natural selection by increasing survival rates during pregnancy of infants possessing the MTHFR C677T polymorphism, via reduction in hyperhomocysteinemia associated with this genotype and thereby miscarriage rates. This also points directly to an increased rate of births of infants with higher postnatal requirements for folic acid needed for normal methylation during this critical neurodevelopmental period. If these numbers have increased then so have the absolute number of infants that after birth fail to maintain the higher folate status experienced in utero thus leading to an increased number of cases of developmental disorders such as Autism. Detection of the C677T polymorphism as well as other methionine cycle enzymes related to folate metabolism and methylation at birth as part of newborn screening programs could determine which newborns need be monitored and maintained on diets or supplements that ensure adequate folate status during this critical postnatal neurodevelopment period. source
If we prepare the man and woman nutritionally, spiritually and physically prior to getting pregnant, while pregnant and postpartum, then the likelihood for a healthy baby greatly increases.
But it doesn’t stop here.
Most doctors and woman stop supplementing postpartum and the newborn child is faced with chemicals, toxins and dozens of vaccinations.
We must not forget to encourage a healthy environment for the newborn child while at the same time identifying if methylation defects are present. If so, then address them. If we do this, then the rates of autism go down for the first time in history.
This is very empowering and something that all men and women need to embrace fully.
Support your pregnancy.
Here is how you support your MTHFR and Pregnancy.
Then don’t stop there.
Keep supporting your child so their MTHFR variants won’t be an issue.
[…] Interestingly enough, autism began to rise at the same time folic acid fortification began. (MTHFR.net) And, 98% of those with autism have at least one defective MTHFR gene. This does not show […]
I really enjoyed your reading your article/research. It especially hits home, as we approach an ASD evluation for our three year old in April. His therapists believe he’s high functioning, and his language has grown leaps and bounds in the last year after intervention. My husband and I are considering having another child. My husband has ADD, so does his father and he also has two first cousins with children on the spectrum. I find it interesting as you stated the MTHFR gene is prevalent in Italian and Mexican popultations as that is my husbands background. We’re both going to ask our internists to test us for the mutation, but where do we go from here. I have found supplements with the folinic acid/Quatrefolic but it also has the folic acid which you state it shouldn’t. Can you recommend a prenatal? Also, what should my husband be doing/taking? Thank you SO much.
My research shows that folinic acid is not a good supplement for those with the mthfr defect because both folic acid and folinic acid cannot be properly converted and absorbed by people with this genetic mutation and may actually block folate and cause folate deficiency symptoms. That being said, I come form a family history of bi polar, anxiety and depression….having similar symptoms myself, I supplemented with 5-mthfr and had great results, a month later I tried folinic acid, within days I had severe symptoms of folate deficiency including increased seborrheic dermatitis and severe restless legs and lethargy….and restarted the 5-mthfr and feel much better. Pass up the folinic acid and go straight to the 5- mthfr.
To add to the research, I am a programmer and did a trace on the chemicals involved from MTHFR to the adrenal system, through Cortisol (adrenals) down to the immune system, including leaky gut, inflammation, and stress, and to needing to use more serotonin and cortisol again.
-The links are that Folate conversion to Methylfolate is reduced or dimmed by the MTHFR gene. When there is Methylfolate it can grab B12 and Homocysteine and make it all into Methionine which feeds the adrenals. Which is what you want.
-The adrenals power Serotonin, Cortisol, Adrenaline, Noradrenaline (natural focus), Dopamine (reward), Aldosterone (acid/alkaline balance).
-When stressed we use Serotonin and Cortisol. Cortisol controls inflammation, pain killing and the fight/flight/freeze reflex (reducing them). It also gives us “Cortisol Concentration” aka the death stare. Restless leg, stimming, jittering.
-The “Antiporter-X” pathway is inhibited by the fight/flight/freeze reflex from turning ‘Cystine’ into ‘Cysteine’. ‘Cystine’ gives us hightened senses as is normal. ‘Cysteine’ is one of the 3 chemicals required for Glutathione (immune system) and digestion, preventing “leaky gut”. So this is where it’s either one or the other in terms of fight/flight/freeze, or digest food. Digestion (and the immune system) here is “locked out” due to an inability to produce enough Cortisol to handle inflammation, pain killing, and the fight/flight/freeze reflex. If the adrenals would be fed with more Methionine then this would be possible to be under control, and not constant 24/7.
-‘Cysteine’, in times of relaxation, besides making 1 part of Glutathione (stopping leaky gut, and resultant inflammation and pain killing), also makes Taurine for heart & muscle control, and sways the synapses to being more ‘learned/aspirational’ rather than ‘inhibited’, via the chloride flow. More Glycine – more inhibited. More ‘Cysteine’ – more apsirational. But ‘Cysteine’ also can rapidly oxidise into ‘Cystine’ without Thioredoxin (vit C & E, and Selenium help). Selenium also is for the Thyroid in making energy.
-Mercury oxides, including from teeth fillings, DEACTIVATE Selenium and ‘Cysteine’ because their thiols are sulfer. AKA “Mercaptides” because of the relationship mercury has with sulfer.
-Back to the Fight/Flight/Freeze reflex, this means you have high ‘Cystine’ (high sensitivies), low Taurine (low heart/muscle control – your heart and muscles react at everything), no digestion, and inhibited synapses. Very aggression-ready, but thats not what you want 24/7.
When there is cortisol, there is more control of the above. The adrenals are fed more with more Methionine, including acid/alkaline balance, feels reward again.. and so the person is back to normal. Potassium/Sodium (chips & salt) is also required for the acid/alkaline balance. Cranberries contain ‘Cysteine’ so should be eaten before meals – it also breaks down Gluten. A handful of them beofre gulping down a lot of folate has been a great benefit (bread & vegemite).
[…] testing for methylation gene defects important. MTHFR has been linked to congenital heart disease, autism, ADD/ADHD and a host of other illnesses. As Dr. Kendal Stewart reminds us, it’s possible to use […]
Dr. Lynch, Is there a supplement you would recommend for an infant who may have the MTHFR mutation? I have the c677t 1801133(C;T) and 1298 1801131(A;A) and my wife was just tested, but no results yet. We have a 4 month old that we would like to supplement as soon as possible, but do not know what our options are. Also, is there a particular formula you can recommend for her that does not have folic acid? Her current formula has folic acid, as folacin, and we are concerned.
My 5 year old has moderate-severe autism (non-verbal with seizures) and I’ve just discovered via 23andme that she is homozygous at MTHFR C677T. After consulting with a MAPS doctor, I’m now giving her folinic acid, mB12, magnesium, probiotics (due to GI issues/yeast). Is there anything else I’m missing? Should I chelate? I have 5 mercury amalgams and worry that I passed my own toxic burden to my child in utero. BTW, I underwent 8 IVF cycles to have this child! None of the reproductive specialists ever mentioned a thing about MTHFR and I now know that I’m heterozygous at C677T.
There are so many comments on this feed, makes me feel a little better knowing that I’m not alone as a parent. I have one child who is mild-moderately autistic. He is 3. I had a perfectly health pregnancy and took plan old generic prenatals (starting when I found out I was pregnant, about 2 months into the pregnancy) with him.
My question is this…Whenever we have baby #2 I am considering not taking any prenatals, 5-mthf or otherwise. I realize the risk of miscarriage will be increased. What are your thought on this?
Hi Sarah –
I think you MUST take a quality prenatal – absolutely.
There is too much risk if you don’t – for you and the child.
Please read this – and consider the video as well – explains a ton:
I am 7 weeks pregnant suffering from anxiety and depression.can I take magnesium supplement ..I have loose stools so can I take Mother Earth ( magnesium chloride) angstrom magnesium. With no laxative effect…It says safe in pregnNcy..also my vitamin d is very low 17.3..so I have to take large dose of vitamin d with magnesium and k2 to absorb..I taking predate mini with 1 mg folate…
I have a different hypothesis. I think that jumping to folic acid CAUSING the gene mutations is speculation and we can’t get to a causal impact, that route.
Instead, consider this. In 1994, we added Asperger’s to the DSM. That accounted for a very small increase in slope. In 1998, the United States began adding folic acid to commonly consumed foods, which, if we control for the number of additional diagnoses due to wider diagnostic criteria, is far steeper than ever before, including between 94-98.
People have had these mutations all along and survived just fine. The problem is that we are adding a toxin that 30-50% of the population cannot break down and THAT is causing the autism, decreased myelination, rise in Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, etc.
I am homozygous for c677t, but I was born PRIOR to folic acid fortification and my mother did not consume folic acid while pregnant, but rather ate a fairly healthy diet high in natural vitamins and minerals. This common gene mutation is present in me, yet I was not exposed to folic acid in the womb AND I do not have autism.
I don’t believe it is that people with most MTHFR mutations are at a higher survival rate due to the increase in folic acid. However, I do believe that their bodies are being negatively impacted by a toxin they simply cannot process, which builds up harmful waste in the 0-3 years of age timeframe, when brain connections are being made and before synapses begin pruning.
I would love a response from someone who is extremely well-versed in this, so if you have any thoughts, please advise. I am planning my next academic research project on some of the raw data concerning autism and the addition of folic acid into foods. Your input and guidance would be amazing and much appreciated. Thank you.
Folic acid is NOT causing the genetic mutation – it is increasing the prevalence of it. This is very different.
MTHFR was around -yes – but now it is even more so as many babies who would’ve otherwise miscarried now are entering the gene pool.
This increase of MTHFR in the gene pool along with glyphosate, GMO’s, vaccines, super bugs, etc are causing all sorts of issues.
Jacqui is spot on, the MTHFR gene may or may not have survived in past generations, This line of research deserved a Nobel medal. The simple fact that fortification was introduced in the last generation is most likely the cause of Autism activating rather than being dormant as was in previous generations, even surviving MTHFR defects in the first place.
Due to the high consumption of junk foods, commercial breads and rice (all fortified) these MTHFR children can NOT process this artificial and heavy folic acid supplement. This leads to an inability to remove toxins due to dysfunctional methylation and all kinds of neurological and sensory problems – visual, hearing and kinesthetic. Eventually if not treated leading to cancers and heart disease. Why has heary disease rates risen amongst a more healthy and active population?
A whole industry has popped up around treating these minor ailments, when what should’ve been happening is that population studies should have been conducted on the side effects of fortification and their necessity or not. Neural tube defect are easily prevented with elevit, there’s no need for every single person in society to be force medicated laboratory folic acid and other B vitamins through common foods. This really is a disaser waiting to contaminate the gene pool forever, leading to reduced lifespan. Maybe that was the plan from the beginning!
My eight month old had a tongue tie that led me to researching the mthfr mutations. My husband and I just received our 23andme results and I am heterozygous c677t and he is heterozygous a1298c. Does this pretty well guarantee our daughter is compound heterozygous? 🙁
Hi Jordan – Given this information…the odds are high that your daughter will have one or more MTHFR mutations. However, this does not guarantee that your daughter will have significant health issues. It is probably a good idea to have her tested for MTHFR mutations. This information will empower you to be proactive about proper nutrition and supplementation to give your daughter the best chance of having a healthy, happy life.
I don’t think that the folic supplementation is interfering with natural selection. I think that, for a person with MTHFR, if they supplement with the non-methylated form of folic acid, even 1 mg, that is too much folic acid in their system that is not being used. This can cause nerve damage. The nerve damage is the problem.
My husband and I both are heterozygous A1298C. I am currently taking Neevo DHA that my doctor recommended. I am curious if this is something to consider…If I am taking Neevo DHA doesn’t that favor a baby being born with the gene mutation? As the article reads, wouldn’t this favorable environment allow for a fetus to grow that would more than likely miscarriage of I was not taking Neevo? I appreciate your help!
What if supplementation with folic is actually becoming toxic in the diet of women and children with mthfr? it makes no sense that supplementing would cause a DOUBLING of a genotype in one generation, unless neural tube and stillbirth/abortions were accounting for half of all pregnancies and that’s not even close to true (I’m also a geneticist, btw). I find it more likely that fortification with a potentially moderately toxic substance (folic acid, since it cannot be metabolized, where does it go? it actually competes for receptors with folate) in all of our preferred foods with a coinciding shift to a poor diet devoid of greens and other folate containing foods is damaging the health of MTHFR individuals.
I was just diagnosed with the MTHFR C667T mutation and my oldet son has severe autism, my youngest is fine. During my first pregnancy I took those supplements regliously and I was sick my entire pregancy, he was born in 1993, in 1995 he was diagnosed. He is now 22 with an iq of 38 and cannot talk.
I had my second child in 1998 but didnt take the supplements because my stomach just couldnt tolerate them. He had a few delays early on but is now a normal young man but has anxiety like I did at age 18.
I have a long list of health issues and after getting genetic test found out this was passed down to me by other parents so I am a t/t. My concern is I passed this down to both boys, obviously the one with autism.
I wanted to know if there are an studies being done and if there is any way I can be of assitance. I have been an advocate and if this can help others NOT go through all we have been through I am happy to be available. I think we are fitting the text book with this and I am in awe over the new technology and finally geting answers I have been looking for. I was really looking for info for my own health, I had no idea I would be learnig so much about my boys in the process.
“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.”
Let me be the first to say, without AUTISM, you would have no classical music, theory of relativity, light bulb, etc. Makes me VERY angry that someone suggest that perhaps the world would be a better place if MY kids didn’t exist.
…and I didn’t do any fortification.
Hi Jennifer –
I hear you.
Believe me, I am NOT saying to not support pregnancies in any way possible.
What I am saying is a plea to continue supporting the child after birth AND that we need to be aware that increased susceptibilities are becoming the norm now – not the exception.
There are many reasons for autism – loads. It is not a parent’s fault.
Our environment is a mess and our children are beacons for how toxic it is.
We need to get our act together as a society and fix our planet so our kids can be born and live to their fullest potential.
[…] is a synthetic form of folate – it is not the same thing, and in some cases (usually with genetic anomalies) it can cause problems. Most people uses these 2 terms interchangeably but I cannot stress the […]
[…] added nutrients, such as folic acid, can be toxic for those with the MTHFR gene mutation (see also Folic Acid Fortification, Increase in MTHFR and Rise in Autism?). Also of concern are the findings of a 2014 study from the Netherlands. Researchers found that in […]
Do you think mandatory folic acid fortification is causing an obesity epidemic? Given that up to 50% of the population have MTHFR and struggle with breaking down synthetic folic acid
Hi Dr Ben,
Thank you for all your explanations about mthfr.
I have A1298C mutation in heterozigozity and C677T mutation also in heterozigosity.
I am pregnant (13 weeks) and I would like to know if I can take folic acid. In my country (Brazil), I did not find any pregnancy multivitamin with metafolin. All multivitamins here have folic acid. What I should take? I am worried about this.
I am against folic acid as you know – but if you have trouble getting organic leafy green vegetables, then taking a supplement with folic acid is better than nothing.
Keep in mind many many women have taken folic acid during pregnancy for decades.
I am looking only to optimize pregnancies for all which is why I am against folic acid.
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
My son has ASD, but we did not know for years. He is now 14 and was tested a couple of years ago for various issues. It came back that he did not absorb folic acid well. We have since been giving him a supplement of methyl folate or folinic acid combined with other B vitamins (B-ND). I am glad to see that this might be helping him now. This is interesting information. Thank you.
Dr. Eu tenho o gene MTHFR C677T, descobri apos uma perda gestacional de 29 semanas. Minha duvida é quanto ao acido folico, apos ler sua materia fiquei preocupada, pois tomo acido fólico ha 02 anos direto, uma vez que sou tentante e por orientação medica devo usar sem problema. Porém, ao ler sua tese me preocupei muito, uma vez que pretendo fazer fertilização in vitro daqui a 3 meses, logo, vou parar de tomar a partir de então, será que é o suficiente p que não venha causar qualquer alteração no bebe? o que o senhor me orienta fazer? Me indique um suplemento que substitua o AF, por favor!!!