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Moms’ folate levels may reduce kids’ emotional problems

Doctors know that low folate levels in early pregnancy increase chances of neural tube birth defects, and wanted to test for a link to behavioral and emotional problems in children.

Researchers measured folic acid in the diet and folate levels in early pregnancy in 3,209 Dutch women, and then followed up on children’s emotional and behavioral problems at age three.

Compared to kids whose moms had good folate levels, those whose moms were deficient in folate before pregnancy were 57 percent more likely to develop emotional problems by age three.

Compared to children whose moms started taking folic acid supplements when pregnant, those whose mothers started taking folic acid later during pregnancy or who did not take folic acid at all were 45 percent more likely to have emotional problems.

The Netherlands does not require manufacturers to fortify foods with folic acid.

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