Benefits of folic acid for pregnant or breastfeeding women
Folic acid (also known as folate) is a B vitamin and is important for a range of functions to the body. For example, it helps produce healthy new red blood cells, which are essential for DNA synthesis and repair, and is vital for pregnancy.
A lack of folic acid during pregnancy could lead to serious birth and neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are severe birth defects of the brain and spine. Some of these defects include:
Spina Bifida: the spine and the spinal cord are not formed properly
Anencephaly: baby’s cerebellum region of the brain does not develop normally
Lack of bladder and bowel control
Build-up of brain fluid
In addition to these defects, low birth weight, nervous system damage, stillbirth, brain damage, and heart problems are all risks for infants who are deficient in folic acid. Studies have shown that women who are pregnant or attempting to become pregnant should consume at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid daily, before conception and for at least 3 months afterwards.
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If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please see a medical professional if there is a concern about adequate intake of nutrients during pregnancy.