Folic Acid and Cognitive Development in Children

Cognitive development in children is a complex process influenced by various factors, including maternal nutrition. One nutrient, folic acid, has gained attention for its potential role in this area. This article delves into recent research to explore how maternal folic acid use impacts children’s cognitive development.

Suzuki et al. (2022) found that adequate dietary folate intake from preconception to early pregnancy positively influences verbal cognition development in 2-year-old children (Suzuki et al., 2022). Similarly, McNulty et al. (2019) reported that continued folic acid supplementation in pregnancy’s later stages enhanced cognitive performance in children at ages 3 and 7 years (McNulty et al., 2019).

Further research by Caffrey et al. (2021) supports these findings, indicating that prolonged folic acid supplementation beyond the first trimester may benefit children’s neurocognitive development (Caffrey et al., 2021).

Tan et al. (2019) observed that maternal folic acid and micronutrient supplementation is associated with reduced ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) symptoms and better vitamin levels in children with ASD (Tan et al., 2019). Additionally, Schmidt et al. (2019) found that maternal prenatal vitamin intake, including folic acid, during the first month of pregnancy reduced ASD recurrence risk in high-risk families (Schmidt et al., 2019).

Current research suggests a beneficial association between maternal folic acid use and children’s cognitive development. Adequate intake before and during pregnancy may enhance verbal cognition, cognitive performance, and neurocognitive development, and potentially reduce ASD symptoms.


Suzuki, T., Nishigori, T., Obara, T., Masumoto, T., Mori, M., Murata, T., … & Nishigori, H. (2022). Maternal folic acid supplement use/dietary folate intake from preconception to early pregnancy and neurodevelopment in 2-year-old offspring: the Japan Environment and Children’s Study. British Journal of Nutrition, 128, 2480-2489.
DOI: 10.1017/S000711452200037X

McNulty, H., Rollins, M., Cassidy, T., Caffrey, A., Marshall, B., Dornan, J., … & Pentieva, K. (2019). Effect of continued folic acid supplementation beyond the first trimester of pregnancy on cognitive performance in the child: a follow-up study from a randomized controlled trial (FASSTT Offspring Trial). BMC Medicine, 17.
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-019-1432-4

Caffrey, A., McNulty, H., Rollins, M., Prasad, G., Gaur, P., Talcott, J., … & Pentieva, K. (2021). Effects of maternal folic acid supplementation during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy on neurocognitive development in the child: an 11-year follow-up from a randomised controlled trial. BMC Medicine, 19.
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-021-01914-9

Tan, M., Yang, T., Zhu, J., Li, Q., Lai, X., Li, Y., … & Li, T. (2019). Maternal folic acid and micronutrient supplementation is associated with vitamin levels and symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders. Reproductive Toxicology.
DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2019.11.009

Schmidt, R., Iosif, A., Guerrero Angel, E., & Ozonoff, S. (2019). Association of Maternal Prenatal Vitamin Use With Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder Recurrence in Young Siblings. JAMA Psychiatry, 76, 391–398.
DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.3901

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