- Folic acid is an essential
micronutrient during pregnancy
- Deficiency of folic acid can cause
neural tube defects
- Folic acid food fortification has
reduced the rates of congenital heart defects by 11 percent
Folic acid is
one of the B vitamins (B9) also known as folate. Folic acid plays a crucial
role in the brain function, mental and emotional
health. Folic acid fortified foods can reduce the rates of congenital heart defects,
says a new study.
Folic acid is an essential nutrient for women before and
. Women are recommended to take folic acid at least 1 month before becoming pregnant. An adult woman needs 400mcg of
folic acid a day. A pregnant woman needs 600mcg of folic acid per day to
prevent neural birth defects.
‘Folic acid food fortification in cereals, flours and pasta helped lower the overall rates of congenital heart defects (narrowing of aorta and ventricular septal defects) by 11 percent.’
examined the effect of folic acid fortified food on the subtype of congenital
heart disease. "Our study was based on the Canadian experience before and
after food fortification was made mandatory in 1998," said K.S. Joseph,
M.D., Ph.D., the study's senior author and professor in the partment of
Obstetrics and Gynecology and the School of Population and Public Health at the
University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
analyzed the data from nearly 6 million Canadian births from 1990 to 2011.
Factors such as maternal age, pregnancy complications, multiple births (twins,
triplets), prenatal diagnosis and pregnancy terminations were controlled. The
researchers found that folic acid food fortification reduced the overall
rates of congenital heart disease by 11 percent.
Effects of Folic Acid in Congenital Heart Defects
1. Folic acid reduced the rates of conotruncal
or severe heart outflow tract abnormalities by 27%
2. Coarctation of the aorta (CoA)
, also called aortic narrowing was reduced by 23%
3. Atrial and ventricular septal defects (ASD or VSD)
- holes in the wall separating heart chambers was reduced by 15%
were no changes in the chromosomally associated defects (abnormality in the
number of chromosomes). In 1998, the Canadian government made it mandatory to
fortify all types of flours, pasta and cornmeal with folic acid to prevent
neural tube defects. The researchers said that the findings of the study apply
to the US population as well. "Folic acid food
fortification was implemented at the same time in the US as Canada because of
the North American Fair Trade Agreement of 1994," said Joseph.
The research is
published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation
who do not get adequate folic acid are more likely to have children with birth
. Women should take
folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy to prevent the risk of birth
defects. Folic acid promotes rapid growth and cell division during pregnancy. Folic acid deficiency
causes neural tube defects such as cleft palate, brain damage and spina bifida
(abnormality of the spine and spinal cord). Some of the dietary sources of
folic acid are kale, spinach, orange juice, dark green leafy vegetables,
avocado, salmon, and milk. But, dietary sources alone do not meet the
daily requirement of folic acid.
"Women who are
likely to get pregnant should take folic acid supplements before getting
pregnant as they may not necessarily receive adequate folate from diet alone,"
are the most common types of
birth defects. About 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects per
year in the United States. The most common type of congenital heart disease is
a ventricular septal defect.
published in the Nature Reviews of Neuroscience
women who take folic acid supplements before pregnancy and during the first
trimester reduced the risk fo neural tube defects in infants by 75 percent.
Other studies have shown that folic acid may also prevent miscarriage and lower
the risk of autism.
- Folic acid fortified food linked to decline in
congenital heart defects - (http://www.eurekalert.org/emb_releases/2016-08/aha-faf082416.php)
- Neural tube defects and folate: case far from
closed - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2970514/#)