Why Does Folic Acid Prevent Neural Tube Defects?

What are the chances of having a baby with neural tube defect?

The chances of having a child with a neural tube defect for those without a family history are approximately 1/500- 1/1,000 (0.1-0.2%), although this can vary depending on the region where one lives or one’s race..

How much folic acid is needed to prevent neural tube defects?

The U.S. Public Health Service recommended that all women who could become pregnant get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day to prevent neural tube defects.

What is considered high risk for neural tube defects?

Women are at increased risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect if: they have already had a baby with a neural tube defect. they or their partner have a close relative born with a neural tube defect. they have type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes (not gestational diabetes)

Does taking folic acid help prevent Down syndrome?

April 17, 2003 — Taking folic acid supplements before and during early pregnancy may not only help prevent neural tube defects in babies, but it may also reduce the risk of Down syndrome.

When should I stop taking folic acid during pregnancy?

When should I stop taking folic acid? Once you reach 12 weeks pregnant your baby’s spine will have developed, so you can stop taking folic acid if you wish. However you can continue to take supplements after 12 weeks if you choose to and it won’t harm your baby to do so.

What happens if you don’t take folic acid during pregnancy?

What can happen if I do not get enough folic acid during pregnancy? If you do not get enough folic acid before and during pregnancy, your baby is at higher risk for neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are serious birth defects that affect the spine, spinal cord, or brain and may cause death.

What birth defects are caused by teratogens?

These include cleft palate, heart defects, abnormalities of the outer ears, and underdevelopment of the lower jaw. Isotretinoin is also linked with neural tube defects. Some types of tranquilizers, such as phenothiazine and lithium, are thought to be teratogens.

At what stage of pregnancy is folic acid most important?

When Should I Start Taking Folic Acid? Birth defects occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. So it’s important to have folate in your system during those early stages when your baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing.

What foods prevent neural tube defects?

Folic acid: Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, which are serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Many cereals are fortified with folic acid. Other sources include dark-green leafy vegetables and beans.

Which vitamin deficiency is associated with neural tube defects?

A new study shows that women with vitamin B12 deficiency in early pregnancy were up to five times more likely to have a child with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, compared to women with high levels of vitamin B12.

Is 4 weeks pregnant too late for folic acid?

The best way to protect your baby is to start taking folic acid at least 3 months before you get pregnant. This will decrease the chance of your baby developing spina bifida by about 50%. If you wait until you get pregnant or miss your period to start folic acid supplements, you are too late.

Why does folic acid prevent birth defects?

Folic acid can reduce certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord by more than 70 percent. These birth defects are called neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs happen when the spinal cord fails to close properly. The most common neural tube defect is spina bifida.

What is the cause of neural tube defects?

Many different factors, including genetics, nutrition, and environmental factors, are known to play a role. Research shows that getting enough folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9) before conception and early in pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk of spina bifida and other NTDs.

In which trimester of pregnancy is the fetus the most vulnerable to teratogens?

During the development of a baby, there are certain organs forming at certain times. If a teratogen has the potential to interfere with the closure of the neural tube, for example, the exposure to the teratogen must occur in the first 3.5 to 4.5 weeks of the pregnancy, since this is when the neural tube is closing.

What is the most critical stage of pregnancy?

The first trimester is the most crucial to your baby’s development. During this period, your baby’s body structure and organ systems develop. Most miscarriages and birth defects occur during this period.

What can go wrong during fetal phase?

Maternal Disease: A number of maternal diseases can negatively impact the fetus, including herpes, rubella, and AIDS. Herpes virus is one of the most common maternal diseases and can be transmitted to the fetus, leading to deafness, brain swelling, or intellectual disability.

When should I start taking folic acid to prevent spina bifida?

Folic acid taken at least one month before pregnancy and for the first three months of pregnancy will substantially reduce the risk of birth abnormalities called neural tube defects (NTD) in babies. The most common form of a neural tube defect is spina bifida.

How does folic acid help prevent spina bifida?

Studies have shown that if all women who could become pregnant were to take a multivitamin with the B-vitamin folic acid, the risk of neural tube defects could be reduced by up to 70%. Folic acid is a water-soluble B-vitamin that helps build healthy cells, but it does not stay in the body long.