It is Folic Acid Awareness Week and Doctors Suggest That a Diet High in Folic Acid Reduces the Risk of Having A Child with Spina Bifida

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains that spina bifida literally means, “cleft spine.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “a congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. It often causes paralyses of the lower limbs, and sometimes mental handicap.”

According to the American Pregnancy Association, this “neural tube defect affects approximately 1,500 pregnancies each year.” Some of the risk factors for spina bifida are:

  • Maternal insulin-dependent diabetes
  • Medically diagnosed obesity
  • High Temperatures in early pregnancy (i.e. prolonged fevers and hot tub use)

Doctors suggest that spina bifida can be best prevented by taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily. The American Pregnancy Association reports that “studies have shown that if women who could become pregnant were to take a multivitamin with the B-vitamin folic acid, the risk of neural tube defects could be reduced up to 70%.”

The Office of Women’s Health explains that “Folic acid is the man-made form of folate, a B-vitamin. Folate is found naturally in certain fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Folic acid is found in vitamins and fortified foods.”

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