Folate Deficiencies Are Linked with Birth Defects
Folate is an essential nutrient that is lacking in the diets of many women in their child-bearing years. During pregnancy, the body’s need for folate increases by about 50% (for a recommended intake of 600mcg), and during this critical time many women still do not get enough. It is difficult to get the recommended amount of folate from the diet alone, and therefore it is recommended that most women obtain the necessary levels through supplementation.
Research shows that when pregnant women have adequate folate levels, several types of neural tube defects can be prevented. Supplementation should occur before and during pregnancy in order to promote a healthy pregnancy and to enable women to deliver healthy babies. Particularly for women in their child bearing years, folate supplementation should be included in their health regimens. Because many pregnancies are unplanned, physicians should recommend folate supplements to ensure that their patients will have the adequate levels should pregnancy occur.
Birth Defects That May Be Prevented with Folate Supplementation:
- spina bifida
- other NTDs
Researchers believe that 70% of all the cases in which these birth defects occur could be prevented through folate supplementation. The number of neural tube defects that still occur each year suggests that there is a lack of awareness among pregnant women of the importance of adequate folate levels for the health of their babies. Therefore it is necessary for doctors and gynecologists to carefully instruct their patients on the importance of obtaining the proper levels. The best way to ensure more healthy pregnancies and deliveries will be to educate patients and communicate the benefits of folate supplementation.