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The Effects of Folic Acid During Pregnancy

By Darlene Oakley HERWriter
 
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pregnancy effects of folic acid

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid (folate or vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient found in leafy green vegetables, fruit, dried beans and peas.

It is also artificially added to flour used in enriched breads, cereals, pasta, rice and other grain products.

Folate, along with the other B vitamins, is crucial to:

• convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body uses for energy

• proper brain function, and plays an important role in mental and emotional health

• production of DNA and RNA

• rapidly growing cells and tissues

• making red blood cells and the body using iron properly

• preventing neural tube defects

Source: www.umm.edu

Fact and Stats about Neural Tube Defects

The neural tube “is the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord. When the neural tube does not close properly, a baby is born with a very serious birth defect called a neural tube defect (NTD).” (1)

Neural tube defects include spina bifida, where the spinal cord and/or a sac filled with fluid protrude through an opening in the back (5), and anencephaly, where a baby is born without the front part of the brain and the cerebrum, the thinking and coordinating part of the brain.

If the baby is born with any parts of the brain missing they are usually not covered by bone or skin. Almost all babies born with anencephaly die shortly after birth. (6)

According to the March of Dimes about 3,000 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects each year in the United States.

Adequate amounts of folic acid can also protect against:

• Cleft lip and palate

• Preeclampsia (when folic acid supplements are taken during the second trimester)

• Premature birth (women who took folic acid for at least 12 months prior to pregnancy decreased their chances of delivering early by 50 percent or more)

• Low birth weight

• Miscarriage

• Poor in-uterine growth

Source: www.webmd.com

Recommended Folic Acid Intake Levels

The CDC recommends that all women of childbearing years consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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