Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that has been shown to reduce neural tube defects in newborns by up to 70%. Neural tube defects are birth defects that involve incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord. Some of the most common neural tube defects include: spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele. Spina bifida is an incomplete closure of the spinal cord and spinal column that can range from an incomplete closure of the posterior aspects of the vertebrae of the spine to the herniation of the spinal cord through the skin of the back. Anencephaly is a severe under development of the brain that results in the absence of the major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp. The remaining brain tissue is often left uncovered by bone or skin. Most babies born with anencephaly do not survive. Encephalocele, also known as cranium bifidum, is a condition that is characterized by sac-like protrusion of the brain through abnormal openings in the skull. All of these defects occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy, often before the women even realizes she is pregnant. With only 50% of pregnancies being a planned event, it is essential that all women of childbearing years get enough folic acid. Most studies suggest that as little as 400 micrograms of folic acid can prevent the majority of these devastating birth defects. Along with supplementation, folic acid can be found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, orange juice and enriched whole grains.