Objectives: Animal and human studies have demonstrated that folic acid (FA) is essential for nervous system and brain development. In humans, insufficient maternal FA intake is known to cause neural tube defects, autism spectrum, and other neurodevelopmental disorders in children. The present study aimed to determine the impact of maternal FA supplementation on psychomotor skills and learning and memory functions in their adult offspring. Methods: Eighteen female Wistar rats were randomly divided into three groups. The animals were fed three different concentrations of FA from preconception to pregnancy and during lactation. The adult offspring were assessed for neurobehavioural changes and histological confirmation by hippocampal neuron quantification. Results: Neurobehavioural assessment revealed a significantly smaller number of alternations, a higher percentage bias, and a greater number of working and reference memory errors. The increased time spent in the dark compartment in the FA-supplementation group indicated deficit(s) in learning memory. Hippocampal neuron quantification revealed a higher mean number of viable neurons in the cornu ammonis (CA) region in the control group (CA1 region, 31.2 ± 3.2; CA3 region, 23.2 ± 3.2), with a distinct nucleus in both regions, and least in the FA-supplementation group (CA1 region, 24.2 ± 3.1; CA3 region, 15.2 ± 2.2). Conclusion: Results of this investigation support the possible negative effect of high levels of maternal FA supplementation during pregnancy and lactation. Such alterations potentially lead to neurobehavioural changes in the adult offspring of Wistar rats.
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