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Importance of Folic Acid in Preventing Birth Defects

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Friday, April 27, 2018 | 0 comments

Image: Baby Aura, by Bonbon, on Flickr
Photo credit: Baby Aura, by Bonbon
With more than 60% of pregnancies being reported as unplanned, a woman's pre-pregnancy diet becomes more important than ever.

According to March of Dimes – an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the causes of birth defects – women in their child-bearing years are lacking in their intake of folic acid.

The vitamin, they say, plays a crucial role in preventing birth defects, as it helps with spinal cord development during the first few weeks of pregnancy – often the time a woman does not yet know she is pregnant. Since the majority of pregnancies are unplanned, it's important that young women pay attention to their eating habits now and follow a well- balanced diet that is rich in folic acid, said Susie Castillo, whose organization, the Grains Food Foundation, is also raising awareness about the benefits of folic acid.

In particular, Castillo stated, because Hispanic women are more likely to have a child born with a neural tube defect, it is necessary that they understand the importance of eating folic acid-rich foods like enriched grains to dramatically improve their chances of having a healthy baby someday. In fact, when asked about the role of folic acid in a healthy pregnancy, 26% of non-Hispanic women said they were not aware that the vitamin can prevent birth defects, compared to 36% of Hispanic women who stated the same.

Most women know they should eat a healthy diet during pregnancy, but diet is equally important pre-pregnancy, explained Bruce Young, MD, Silverman Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU School of Medicine, Director of the NYU Fetal Therapy Program, and member of the Grain Foods Foundation clinical advisory board.

A woman's diet and lifestyle throughout her childbearing years have a significant impact on her unborn child. Women should have an ample supply of folic acid before conception. I recommend to my patients of child-bearing age that they follow a sensible diet -- which incorporates foods from all foods groups -- and exercise.

Image: The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant, by Jorge Chavarro, Walter Willett, Patrick Skerrett. Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (April 6, 2009)The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
by Jorge Chavarro, Walter Willett, Patrick Skerrett

-- Reveals startling new research from the landmark Nurses' Health Study, which shows that the food you eat can boost your fertility.

The book prescribes ten simple changes in diet and activity that can increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Groundbreaking findings into changes you can put into practice today, setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy and forming the foundation for an eating strategy that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

The Fertility Diet also offers a week's worth of meal plans and delicious recipes that will make following the guidelines easy and tasty.

Image: Buy Now on Amazon.comPaperback: 288 pages
Click to order/for more info: The Fertility Diet

Image: Buy Now on Amazon.comStart reading The Fertility Diet on your Kindle in under a minute!

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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