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Prenatal Folic Acid Supplementation Linked to Lower Risk of Birth Defects


Supplementing with folic acid during pregnancy could lead to a reduced risk of birth defects, say researchers in China.
[Source: nutraingredients.com]

[Image source: Adobe Stock]


Standard medical advice at present is that all women who are pregnant, thinking of trying to have a baby, or likely to become pregnant should take a daily supplement containing 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid until the twelfth week of pregnancy. Research has shown that this reduces the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the baby.

In this latest study, researchers confirmed that the children of women taking 0.4 mg of folic acid from three months prior to conception to three months after it had a lower incidence of birth defects. This included not just a reduced risk of neural tube defects but also congenital heart disease, limb abnormalities, clefts, digestive tract anomalies, and others.

Towards ensuring optimum health in the developing fetus, other micronutrients are also important. Micronutrients such as vitamins C and D, the amino acids lysine and proline, and the B group of vitamins, among others, are essential for a healthy baby and delivery, and for preventing complications during pregnancy.

Vitamin C, lysine, and proline help reduce the risk of premature delivery. Along with minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, vitamins C and D aid the development of the baby’s bones and teeth. Vitamins B1, B2, and B6 are required for the optimal growth of the baby, while a deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to irreparable damage to its nervous system.

To learn more about the importance of micronutrients during pregnancy, see parts one and two of the special pregnancy feature article on our website.