Thursday, January 6, 2011

Folic Acid- The Wonder Vitamin!

--> Getting enough folate is crucial in preventing birth defects and now new research shows it may help prevent premature delivery. Here's what you need to know to give your baby the best possible start.

Spina bifida is the most common form of Myelomeningocele, a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form, resulting in an incomplete spinal canal.  This condition causes the spinal cord and the tissues covering the spinal cord to be exposed.  Myelomeningocele may affect as many as 1 out of every 800 infants, however, getting enough folate (or folic acid) in your daily diet and through a prenatal supplement, before and during pregnancy, can reduce your baby's risk up to 70%.  Recent research also has found that getting the recommended amount of folate can reduce baby's risk of being born with a cleft lip or cleft palate by one-third.

And as if that's not reason enough to take this amazing B Vitamin, there's more,

The latest research shows a link between folate and the prevention of preterm-birth. In a study of 38,000 women (sponsored by the National Institutes of Health), folate supplementation for at least one year before conception was linked to a 70% decrease in very early preterm deliveries at weeks 20 to 28 and a 50% decline in deliveries at 28 to 32 weeks.

For this wonder vitamin to give you the greatest benefits, you need to start supplementing before conception. Birth defects of the spine and brain occur in the first weeks of pregnancy.  If you are already pregnant, it's ok, don't fret- getting the folate you need is still important.  Both diet and supplementation is necessary.  Most prenatal vitamins contain 800-1,000 micrograms, which is perfect for moms to be and those already pregnant. But don't skimp out on the foods containing folate, like fortified cereals, beans and leafy greens.  Food is the easiest way for your body to absorb folic acid.

For more information, be sure to ask your OBGYN if you're doing all you can do to give your baby the best possible start!

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