Did you know you can actually protect your baby before she's
even born? By taking folic acid supplements before and during
pregnancy, you can prevent birth defects, based on a recent
study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Birth defects in an infant's developing central nervous system
are called "neural tube defects" (NTDs). These defects result
when the spine and brain, or the bones that protect the two,
don't form correctly during pregnancy. In 1994, Canada recommended
that prior to and during pregnancy, all women should include
folic acid supplementation in their diets because it has been
shown to help prevent NTDs. The authors of this study tracked
the success of Canada's recommendation by looking at all births
in Nova Scotia from 1991-2000, and comparing the incidence
- before the 1994 recommendations;
- after the recommendations; and
- after November 1998, when Canada began fortifying grain
products with folic acid because of little response from
mothers to follow recommendations.
The study revealed that following government recommendations
to take folic acid supplements, the incidence of NTDs remained
the same as before. However, following government fortification
of grain products,
the risk for these defects dropped by over 50%.
Folic acid is vital for a healthy baby. Women who could become
pregnant should take folic acid daily, in addition to a healthy
diet, for at least two months prior to a planned pregnancy
until at least the end of the first trimester of pregnancy.
Everybody should include folic acid in their diet for its
many health benefits; simply taking a multivitamin provides
enough for most people.
Persad VL, Van den Hof MC, Dubé JM, et al. Incidence of open
neural tube defects in Nova Scotia after folic acid fortification.
Canadian Medical Association Journal 2002:167(3), pp.
To learn about staying healthy while pregnant, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/women/pregnancy/index.html.