Sydney: Folic acid supplements taken by expectant mothers can reduce the risk of their babies developing a brain tumour during childhood by almost half, according to an Australian study.
This is the result of a five-year study by the Australian Childhood Brain Tumour Consortium (Aus-CBT), led by Elizabeth Milne, professor at Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.
The study stands out as the largest and most comprehensive national research done so far on this topic, the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reports.
"We were specifically targeting FA-intake following from a similar national study on childhood leukaemia and building on the local finding that taking FA can reduce its risk," Milne says, according to a Aus-CBT statement.
Previous reports on the protective effects of multivitamin use on childhood brain tumour (CBT) development were not able to pinpoint the most active constituent in the mix.
Aus-CBT has been the first to separate out multivitamin effects and investigate the link between the intake of FA alone, or combined with iron, vitamin A, B6, B12 or C and its connection with diagnosis of CBT in offspring.
"Indeed it was FA that appeared to be responsible for a (negative diagnosis) association, but it does not harm if it is taken in combination with other micronutrients," Milne says.
Folate is required for reliable DNA synthesis and repair and Milne says: "There are lots of points where a folate deficiency can lead to malignant cell transformation and disease."