Maternal multivitamin supplementation is associated with a reduced risk of autism spectrum disorder in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Nutr Res. 2019 May:65:4-16. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2019.02.003. Epub 2019 Feb 24.


Several studies have explored the link of antenatal multivitamin supplementation with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring, but the findings are inconsistent. The purpose of the current study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies to evaluate the actual association between maternal multivitamin supplementation during the prenatal period and the risk of ASD in children. PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library were searched up to August 26, 2018. The random-effects model was used to calculate the pooled results. The adjusted risk ratios (RRs) were used as the common measure of association among studies. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses were also conducted. A total of 5 articles (9 independent trials; 231 163 children encompassing 4459 cases) were included. The results of overall analysis showed that the likelihood of ASD in offspring whose mothers used multivitamin supplements during the prenatal period was significantly reduced compared with that in offspring of mothers without such supplementation (RR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.45-0.86; P = .003). Additionally, the primary outcome of the meta-analysis was quite robust after being verified by sensitivity analyses and no publication bias was found. Furthermore, the findings of overall analysis were generally consistent with those of subgroup analyses. In conclusion, this meta-analysis supports a protective association between maternal multivitamin supplementation during the prenatal period and the subsequent risk of ASD in children. Further investigation is needed and should address the constituent(s) contributing to the protective effect of multivitamin on ASD risk and the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Children; Meta-analysis; Multivitamin supplementation; Prenatal period.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • PubMed
  • Risk
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamins