When you’re pregnant or considering having a baby, there are many things to think about. Having a healthy baby is at the top of the list and every expectant parent is concerned about problems that occur during pregnancy including defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Fortunately, folic acid is an easy way to guard against two problems that begin in early pregnancy:
• Spina Bifida – an incomplete development/closure of the spinal cord
• Anencephaly – lack of development in major parts of the brain
Either of these problems has serious consequences and are known as neural tube defects.
Folate, a vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, lentils, and Great Northern beans can help prevent neural tube defects. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in fortified cereals, enriched egg noodles, or as a vitamin supplement. Only 400 micrograms a day are needed to be effective. Folic acid can be taken alone or as part of a prenatal vitamin.
Doctors recommend that women of childbearing age, yes even young women, consume 400 micrograms of folate through food or a supplement every day, pregnant or not. Many pregnancies are unplanned and neural tube defects can take place before a woman takes a pregnancy test. Check with your OB/GYN for recommendations specific to your needs. Learn more about our OB/GYNs here.