Folic acid has long since been recommended in early pregnancy to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, but now, new research suggests the supplement could help reduce language development delays in children.
A study was undertaken in Norway, where food is not routinely fortified with folic acid, and focussed on the language kills of nearly 39,000 three-year-old children.
Nearly four years earlier, the researchers had surveyed the toddlers' mums, asking whether they took folic acid from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after their baby's conception.
After taking into account other factors associated with speech delay, such as the mother's weight and level of education, the scientists found that of the 7,000 children whose mothers took folic acid supplements, 28 had a severe language delay, but only 73 cases were found among the 19,000 children whose mothers took folic acid combined with other supplements.
In the 9,000 children whose mothers took no supplements at all, 81 children had severe speech delays.
Speaking to Reuters, researcher Dr. Usha Ramakrishnan of Emory University said: "Clearly it plays a role in development that starts very early in pregnancy."
Are you convinced by folic acid? Did you take it as soon as you began trying for a baby?