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Maternal intake of prenatal vitamins, including folic acid, during pregnancy can significantly lower the risk of autism spectrum disorder, and lead to higher cognitive skills in younger siblings of children with the neurobehavioural condition, say researchers.

Younger siblings of children with the condition are about 13 times more likely to develop the disorder than the general population, with a recurrence risk of nearly one in five.


The findings, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, could be important for families who have children with autism and are planning new pregnancies.

It could also imply that genetic susceptibility could potentially be overcome by taking prenatal multivitamins, said researchers from the University of California-Davis in the US.

For the study, the team included 241 children from high-risk families and who had a sibling diagnosed with the condition.


Among mothers who took prenatal vitamins in the first month of pregnancy, only 14.1 per cent (18 children) were born with autism.

Conversely, whose mothers did not take prenatal vitamins had 32.7 per cent (37 children) with the neurobehavioural condition.

“We found that even though these families are at a likely greater risk for an autism diagnosis for a later sibling due to genetic heritability of ASD, taking prenatal vitamins during the critical early pregnancy period contributed to the reduction in autism risk in siblings by about half,” said Rebecca J. Schmidt, Assistant Professor at the varsity.

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“So, in other words, this is about protection against recurrence of ASD in high-risk younger siblings of children with autism,” she added.

The study emphasizes the importance of taking prenatal vitamins, including folic acid which is known to reduce the risk for birth defects of a baby’s brain and spine. (IANS)


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Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.

Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.

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