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Publication Date


First Advisor

Annaliese Beery

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Folic acid, Folate, Gestation, Behavior, Social behavior, Prenatal supplements, Dietary supplements


Folic acid is a widely used prenatal vitamin because of its importance in proper closure of the neural tube during gestation. In recent years, the US began fortifying most grains with folic acid in order to decrease miscarriage rates and neural tube defects. In addition to consuming fortified grains, pregnant mothers are instructed to also take supplemental folic acid vitamins. Although it is understood that gestational folic acid is required for proper physiological development and neural tube development, more research is needed to understand the possible epigenetic and social behavioral effects of excessive and deficient amounts of gestational folic acid exposure.

This study investigated the effects of deficient gestational folic acid on social behavior, including behaviors linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders, as a continuation of a primary study investigating the impacts of both excessive and deficient gestational folic acid on offspring social behavior. Results of this study found that animals with deficient gestational folic acid exhibited increased aggression in juvenile prairie voles. Results across this study and the primary study found that animals with deficient gestational folic acid exhibited decreased physical prosocial interactions among juvenile and adult prairie voles. These results suggest that deficient gestational folic acid alters social behavior and may play a role in the development of Autism Spectrum Disorders.


2020 Taylor Eve McCain. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




44 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 42-44)