“A case-control study has found that higher folate levels before or during early pregnancy are associated with a lower risk for congenital heart disease in children.” [Source: Medicalexpress.com]
A constant supply of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and other micronutrients is vital for a developing fetus. This is because the development of the various organs in the fetus starts and continues at different periods during pregnancy. Inadequate nourishment in any phase of pregnancy will affect the organ systems, birth weight, and even the survival of the baby. Crucially, the way that the organs develop during pregnancy can determine how their growth continues after the baby’s birth.
Even prior to this latest study it was already known that folate deficiency in a pregnant woman leads to serious neural tube defects in the fetus, and that this may lead to miscarriage. However, a neural tube defect can occur in a fetus even before a woman is aware that she is pregnant. As such, all women of childbearing age should take at least 400 mcg of folate/folic acid daily regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. Ensuring a proper supply of this essential micronutrient can also help to reduce anemia and cardiovascular birth defects, as well as prevent intrauterine growth retardation of the baby.