Washington D.C. [USA], Dec. 23 : You may want to avoid taking folic acid supplements during late pregnancy if you do not want your baby to be at risk, a study has said.
University of Adelaide researchers said taking folic acid supplements in late pregnancy may increase risk of allergies in babies affected by growth restriction during pregnancy.
Folic acid, a type of B Vitamin, is widely used to prevent neural tube defects in the foetus, and to aid in the development of the central nervous system.
The team conducted a study on sheep, which were born from normal or growth-restricted pregnancies, to measured skin reactions to two common allergens: dust mites and egg whites.
The research, which was conducted on sheep, suggested that sheep from growth-restricted pregnancies were less likely to have allergic reactions to egg white protein than those born to normal pregnancies.
If the sheep with growth restricted pregnancies were fed supplements containing folic acid in late pregnancy, then their offspring had similar rates of allergic reactions as control progeny.
Lead researcher Kathy Gatford said taking a folic acid supplement during the first trimester of pregnancy is important to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
“However, continued supplementation with folic acid into the later stage of pregnancy doesn’t reduce that risk, and there’s growing evidence that this may increase risk of allergies in offspring,” Gatford stated.
Previous research has shown that a complication of pregnancy known as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) – a form of growth restriction in the womb often resulting in lower birth weight – may have a protective effect against childhood allergies.
The researchers noted that the research will help to better understand the potential allergy risk in humans.
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