Folic acid aids in the mental development of children – Study

Every Nigerian woman dreams of having super healthy kids after delivery. Many leave this to chance based on their religious bias. However, having healthy kids after delivery is partly deliberate. For instance, it has been found to be true that children whose mothers take folic acid throughout their entire pregnancy are more emotionally stable than those whose mothers did not. Therefore, it is safe to conclude folic acid aids the development of emotionally stable children.

A recent study reveals that most expecting women are only recommended to take a supplement of 400 microgrammes of folic acid, for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The recommended dosage is to ensure the right development of the brain – and as well prevent spina bifida. But then, researchers from the University of Ulster carried out another study after taking a good look at the long term effects of taking the supplement.

They gave supplements of folic acid – found naturally in most green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, to 22 mothers while the other 19 took it just for the first three months, as recommended by NICE guidelines; then, the mothers were given a placebo.

Dr. Tony Cassidy told the annual conference of the British Psychological Society in Brighton that follow-up interviews at the age of seven showed that the children whose mothers took the supplement the entire time had significantly greater levels of resilience and emotional intelligence and as well bigger vocabularies.

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to express and control one’s emotions and handle relationships with others while Resilience is the ability to deal with problems in life.

Cassidy said, “Given it has this positive effect we wanted to know if it would have a positive effect above three months. “We discovered that there was an advantage for children whose mothers had taken folic acid for verbal IQ and reasoning compared to those who did not take the folic acid. We were also looking at emotional intelligence and resilience. We found significant benefits for the children whose mothers took folic acid.”

He stated also that he had expected if further trials show would the same results, this would, therefore, be a strong case for advising mothers to keep taking the folic acid at the recommended level after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

He said, “There is no evidence for any downsides with the amounts people were taking, on the basis that the only evidence for damage is if you take an excessive amount; and given that it’s possible, there is growing evidence there are some beneficial effects mothers should continue with the recommended amount.”

He further added that there was no valid reason why folic acid has these positive effects, but it is suspected that it boosts language development in the brain.

He said, “In terms of how it affects emotional intelligence, we are speculating the effect on language development leads to better communication with the parent and leads to more child-parent interaction.”