Preventing Spina Bifida
If you are a woman of childbearing age, consuming at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day can help in preventing spina bifida. Certain multivitamins and foods such as dark green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals are good sources of folic acid.
Folic acid, also called folate, is an important vitamin that is needed for the development of a healthy fetus. Although taking this vitamin cannot guarantee that you will have a healthy baby, it can help.
Recent studies have shown that by adding folic acid to their diets, women of childbearing age significantly reduce the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. Therefore, it is recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
Foods that are high in folic acid include dark green vegetables, egg yolks, and some fruits.
Many foods are now fortified with folic acid, including:
- Breakfast cereals
- Enriched breads
- Other grain products.
Multivitamins that contain the recommended dosage of folic acid may also be used.
Women are at a greater risk of having a child with spina bifida or another neural tube defect if they:
- Already have a child with spina bifida
- Have spina bifida themselves
- Have already had a pregnancy affected by any neural tube defect.
Women who are at a greater risk of having a child with spina bifida may require more folic acid before they become pregnant.