A new study showed that many U.S. women at child-bearing age suffer lack of Folic Acid that could lead to birth defects, doctors say.
It is not clear now what the reasons are, but the Centers for Disease Control have found that folate levels in U.S. women of childbearing age have declined. The are suggestions that this could be the result of the popularity of low-carb diets.
The Folic acid is necessary for the embryos to develop – especially for their spinal cord and brain – in the first trimester particularly.
Adequate folate intake during the periconceptional period, the time just before and just after a woman becomes pregnant, helps protect against a number of congenital malformations including neural tube defects.
Neural tube defects result in malformations of the spine (spina bifida), skull, and brain (anencephaly). The risk of neural tube defects is significantly reduced when supplemental folic acid is consumed in addition to a healthy diet prior to and during the first month following conception.
Women who could become pregnant are advised to eat foods fortified with folic acid or take supplements in addition to eating folate-rich foods to reduce the risk of some serious birth defects.
Taking 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily from fortified foods and/or supplements has been suggested. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for folate equivalents for pregnant women is 600-800 micrograms, twice the normal RDA of 400 micrograms for women who are not pregnant.