Neural Tube Defects In Babies
Folic Acid and Spina Bifida(Neural Tube Defects In Babies) – What Everyone Should Know
Can folic acid help prevent spina bifida? Studies say yes and the government is listening. Are you doing all you can to help prevent babies from being born with neural tube defects and other birth defects? Check these facts and figures to find out.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
What is Folic Acid?
A vitamin and its sources
Folic acid (also known as Vitamin B9 or Folacin) and Folate (the naturally occurring form) are forms of the water-soluble Vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 (Folic acid and Folate inclusive) is essential to numerous bodily functions ranging from nucleotide synthesis to the remethylation of homocysteine. It is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth. Both children and adults require folic acid to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia. Folate and Folic acid derive their names from the Latin word folium (leaf).
Neural Tube Defects In Babies
Foods with Folic Acid
The March of Dimes has put together an instructional video about the importance of folic acid in the diet of women who are thinking of becoming pregnant or are already pregnant. Besides helping to prevent the occurrence of spina bifida in newborns, folic acid provides other health benefits to mothers and babies.
US Foods Fortified with Folic Acid
Food and Drug Administration
Since 1992, the US Public Health Service recommended that women of child-bearing age take 0.4 milligrams of a folic acid supplement each day to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. In their recommendation, they suggested that foods be fortified with folic acid and the FDA was tasked with carrying out this recommendation. After performing additional studies, they declared the fortification mandatory in 1996 with a final implementation date in 1998.
The recommendation was made that basic foods are eaten by most people such as flour, grains, cereals, enriched breads and similar products be fortified with folic acid. It was the first requirement for food fortification since the advent of enriched food products in 1943. Canada has a similar requirement and other countries have or are considering adopting the practice.
In 1987, CDC (Centers for Disease Control) statistics showed that the rate of occurrence of spina bifida in newborns was 4.3 per every 10,000 births. As of 2005, this had been cut by more than half with 1.9 cases of spina bifida per every 10,000 births.
Those are astounding figures. The rate of occurrence of spina bifida has been cut by more than half in less than 10 years.
Something is working.
Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defects In Babies
A way to go
According to a survey conducted in 2007 by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), while 81% of women of childbearing age reported that they were familiar with folic acid, only 40% of women in that age group were actually taking a folic acid supplement.
Of those who were not taking folic acid, 33% – a full one-third – reported that the reason they weren’t taking the supplement was that they had simply forgotten.
Too Much Folic Acid
It is possible to get more than you need
It is possible to get too much folic acid, although the risks from this happening without a supplement are low. Women’s Health states that it is not possible to get too much of the vitamin naturally through the foods that contain folate, however, with the introduction of fortified foods, others may be at risk.
The LA Times reported in May of 2009 that studies show folate helps the body produce healthy, red blood cells but it may also feed cancerous cells. Individuals ingesting more than 1000 micrograms of folic acid through food and supplements combined could also suffer nerve damage.
There is pressure to determine how much folic acid is too much for people who are not planning on getting pregnant or aren’t currently pregnant. Therefore, it is very important that anyone concerned with the risks of getting too much folic acid in their diets talk about their nutrition with their doctor.
Neural Tube Defects In Babies Information
Spina bifida is a birth defect that impacts the spine. As a baby grows in the womb, the neural tube closes to cover the spine and the brain. When that does not completely close, the spine is unprotected, vertebrae can become damaged and may push through the opening. This can result in permanent paralysis for all areas located below where the defect exists on the spine. The malformation may even protrude through the skin at birth as a sack of fluid surrounding the impacted vertebrae.
While surgery can repair the protrusion, the effects of the most serious types of spina bifida are lifelong. Those with spina bifida may suffer from swelling of the brain and require a shunt to drain excess fluid. They may be in a wheelchair their entire life. They often require a number of surgeries to help them with their condition. The cost of living with spina bifida is expensive. We should do everything we can to further reduce the occurrence of spina bifida.
Individuals who have spina bifida, however, need your help, too. They need your understanding, your support, and your encouragement. They need to know that we care.
Sounds great, you say, but you’re not pregnant, not looking to get pregnant or are male and never going to get pregnant. That doesn’t mean you can’t help out. You probably know someone who could benefit from this information. You could do the following:
Read: Regardless of whether or not you are considering getting pregnant, you’re eating foods fortified with folic acid as part of the FDA fortification policy. Read up on how folic acid can impact your diet and your health.
Talk to Your Doctor: If you are considering getting pregnant, make sure you talk to your doctor about folic acid. They can help make sure you follow a regimen that is right for your situation.
Share: Forward this page to someone you know who is considering becoming pregnant. Spread the information. Remind family members of the importance of folic acid in the development of healthy children.
Neural Tube Defects In Babies
Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania
A charity with hope
The Spina Bifida Association of Western PA is my favorite charity specifically because my dad is a board member and donates considerable time and energy to their organization. He does not have to do this, he chooses to do this and for that reason, he makes us (his family) all very, very proud.
This association offers a wealth of services and support to those with spina bifida and their families. If you would like to learn more about Spina Bifida or the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania, please follow the button to their web page for more information.