Folic acid is a necessary element needed for correct neural tube development. It is part of the B-Complex Vitamins and is also called folate or folacin. It is present in many leafy, green vegetables, orange juice, dried beans, and peas. Normal recommended daily dosage for all woman of child bearing ages is 400 micrograms (0.4 miligrams).Taking more than 1 miligram of folic acid daily is not recommended for all woman, because folic acid can mask the symptoms of pernicious anemia (a B-12 deficiency) and makes diagnosis difficult.For woman who have had a child with a neural tube defect, it is recommended for them to take 4 to 5 miligrams of folic acid daily for 2 to 3 months prior to conception and until at least the 3rd month of pregnancy. Studies have shown that by taking folic acid "before" pregnancy, nearly 70% of all neural tube defects can be prevented.(Folic Acid can significantly reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect,but does not totally eliminate the possibility.)
It is difficult to get enough folic acid by diet alone. Cooking can also wash out some of the folate as it is water soluable. Folic that has been added to cereal's can be lost in the milk if it is not drank. In fact, in order to get 4 mgs of folic acid(the recommended dosage for those who have had a previous child with a NTD), you would need to drink 80 glasses of orange juice or have 100 servings of broccoli. In the United States, we now fortify many of our grain products, such as bread, to help prevent neural tube defects, but it is still important to take a daily vitamin containing folic acid!
Campaign: The March of Dimes started a Folic Acid Awareness campaign in Dec. of '98'. "The Foundation has pledged to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by at least 30% by the year 2001 through its new, multi-year Folic Acid Campaign. The Campaign will reach women through community action, health professional education, and mass media. Everyone is welcome to join this important campaign."To learn more about this worthy campaign or to learn more about the March of Dimes crusade against birth defects Click Here.
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