Study Suggests Folate Deficiency-Down Syndrome Link – folic acid requirement – Brief Article
Mothers of children with Down syndrome show biochemical and genetic signs of impaired metabolism of the nutrient folate, according to a study by FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research.
In March 1996, FDA began requiring that folic acid be added to certain grain products, such as flour, breakfast cereals, and pasta. The agency based the move on evidence that an insufficient folic acid level in early pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects in the brain and spinal cord. The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, further supports FDA’s requirement, according to FDA Commissioner Jane Henney, M.D.
Down syndrome is a leading genetic cause of mental retardation that affects 1 out of 700 live births. Also called trisomy 21, it is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21 that is usually maternal in origin.
While the FDA study provides some new insights into possible causes of the disease, larger clinical studies are necessary to confirm its findings and to determine definitively whether folic acid supplementation (at least two months before pregnancy) will reduce Down syndrome incidence.
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