Folic Acid and Spina Bifida

Folic acid is a B vitamin that can be found in some enriched foods and vitamin pills. If women have enough of it in their bodies before pregnancy, this can help to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folic acid can help form a baby’s brain and spine. Getting enough takes a small effort. But it can make a big difference.

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women who could become pregnant get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) such  as spina bifida. I order to get these levels women would need to have a healthy diet which includes food rich in or fortified with folic acid. But sometimes a good diet is not enough.

To ensure proper intake of folic acid women can also take a daily multivitamin containing folic acid. Today, most of these contain the recommended amounts and are made for easy and better absorption by the body. Vitamin pills containing only folic acid are also available. 

No one expects an unplanned pregnancy. But they happen –everyday. In fact, about half of all pregnancies are not planned. That is why women should get enough folic acid every day if there is any chance that they may become pregnant. Because by the time most women find out that they are pregnant, their baby’s brain and spine are already formed.

For the most updated information on Folic Acid and it’s role in neural tube defects, please visit the CDC website.

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