Spotlight on Folic Acid During Pregnancy
Every person needs a certain amount of vitamins and minerals to maintain good health. However, during pregnancy, it becomes even more important to support your health and your baby’s development with the right nutrients. In fact, some doctors recommend that all women of reproductive age take prenatal vitamins, even if they aren’t planning to become pregnant. This is because the right nutritional support will benefit unplanned pregnancies that are carried to term. One of the most important nutrients is folic acid.
About Folic Acid
Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. You’ll likely eat some B vitamins in your everyday diet. They are typically found in fortified breakfast cereals, bread, and pasta. However, pregnant women should not rely on diet alone to get all of the folic acid they need. It’s recommended that women who are pregnant and those who could become pregnant get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
Importance of Folic Acid
So why exactly is folic acid so important during pregnancy? It’s because the body uses this B vitamin to generate new cells. Specifically, it helps with the formation of the neural tube of the fetus. If there isn’t enough folic acid, neural tube defects can occur. These are birth defects that affect the spinal cord, spine, and brain. The most common neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly.
Babies with spina bifida have a spinal column that doesn’t completely close. This can cause nerve damage and paralysis. Babies with anencephaly have brains and skulls that fail to develop. These babies are typically stillborn or die not long after birth.
Prevention of Neural Tube Defects
There is no cure for these birth defects, so taking steps to prevent them is critically important. Sufficient amounts of folic acid can prevent most neural tube defects. However, these issues typically develop within the first six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many women realize they are pregnant. That’s why it’s recommended that women of reproductive age take a vitamin formulation with 400 mcg of folic acid.
If you’ve decided to carry your baby to term, you can receive maternity and infant supplies from Care Net Pregnancy Center of Kittitas County. Their Client Advocates also provide counseling services at their office in Ellensburg, WA. You can reach the office by calling (509) 925-2273.
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