Despite the smaller sample size and the study’s observational take, researcher Rebecca J. Schmidt said in a statementthis link opens in a new tab that they “found that even though these families are at a likely greater risk for an ASD 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 ASD risk in siblings by about half.”
“So, in other words, this is about protection against recurrence of ASD in high-risk younger siblings of children with autism,” added Schmidt, a MIND Institutethis link opens in a new tab researcher and assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciencesthis link opens in a new tab.
Mayo Clinic advises women who are planning to get pregnant to “start taking prenatal vitamins before conception,” adding that “it’s generally a good idea for women of reproductive age to regularly take a prenatal vitaminthis link opens in a new tab.”
“The baby’s neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy — perhaps before you even know that you’re pregnant,” they add.
Despite researchers’ conclusions, the study says that “additional research is needed” to confirm their findings outside of the cohort observational sample of 241.
The purpose of this research would be “to investigate dose thresholds, contributing nutrients and biologic mechanisms of prenatal vitamins, and to inform public health recommendations for ASD prevention in affected families.”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com