Doctors said folic acid may have other childhood benefits besides reducing neural tube birth defects. Researchers analyzed language development in 38,954 Norwegian boys and girls whose mothers did or did not take 400 mcg of folic acid per day, from four weeks before becoming pregnant to eight weeks afterward. Norway does not require manufacturers to fortify foods with folic acid.
Doctors measured severe language delay, which they defined as speaking only one word, or making only unintelligible sounds. In children whose moms did not take folic acid, 9 out of 1,000 had severe language delay. For children whose moms did take folic acid, the rate of severe language delay was less than half, or 4 in 1,000.