Research hints at a nutritional strategy for reducing autism risk
“Folic acid has long been touted as an important supplement for women of childbearing age for its ability to prevent defects in the baby’s developing brain and spinal cord.
Soon, another prenatal supplement could protect against a certain type of autism, according research published in the journal Cell Reports. The supplement is called carnitine, and it is already available in the market.
Carnitine, which the body can manufacture itself or extract from dietary sources, is required for transport of fatty acids into mitochondria – the compartment within the cell that converts these fats into energy.
Previous studies have shown that inherited mutations in a gene (called TMLHE) that is required for carnitine biosynthesis are strongly associated with risk for development of autism-spectrum disorders, but the basis for that association has been unclear — until now.
The latest findings show that genetic defects in the body’s ability to manufacture carnitine might be associated with an increased risk of autism because carnitine deficiency interferes with the normal processes by which neural stem cells promote and organize embryonic and fetal brain development.”
Read the full study here