Wednesday , March 3 2021

fortifying with folic acid to help prevent birth defects

Expected mothers were advised to avoid certain foods during the period of pregnancy. And it is also widely known that taking certain supplements can help promote good health and well-being for both the mother and her unborn child.

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November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with content related to food in all our sections, as well as events of reader, competitions and exclusive content in

But while everyone has good intentions, many just forget to take the recommended vitamins that could be of great benefit to their growing baby.

The most commonly recognized and promoted supplement is folic acid, which is said to help reduce the risk of certain birth defects. But currently, only one in four women take it before pregnancy, so UK health officials have filed a motion to strengthen flour with folic acid in a movement that helps to reduce feual abnormalities.

British public health minister Steve Brine said it would increase intake of folates among pregnant women and, in turn, reduce the risk of their baby by spina bifida and other birth defects. And the chief doctor of England, Prof. Dame Sally Davies, said the evidence showed that "fortifying flour with folic acid is a practical way to reduce folate deficiencies in pregnant women and reduce birth defects."

"I am pleased to see that the government takes action on this issue and expects to see the broader scientific community feeds its views on this important consultation, which could benefit and improve the lives of many women and babies in this country," he said . "However, as with any type of intervention, we need to be sure that it is also safe and that implies considering wider implications for the rest of the population that eats flour."

Alison Wright, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of the United Kingdom, claims that the university supports calls to fortify flour with folic acid. "The evidence is clear that the fortification will prevent half of it [1,000 diagnoses of] Neural tube defects, "she says." Fortifying flour with folic acid is a simple, safe and evidence-based measure that will reach women who do not receive enough folic acid through their diet, as well as those who may not They have planned their pregnancy. "

& # 39; No policy & # 39;

A Health Department spokesman said they were "aware of media reports in the United Kingdom, but there is no policy currently in force regarding the fortification of foods with folic acid."

Thus, in the absence of fortified flour for pregnant women in this country, Dr. Cliodhna Foley Nolan of Safefood Ireland says that all women who may become pregnant should make folic acid take a daily habit, regardless of whether they are planning a pregnancy or not. "The Safefood campaign" Babies know the facts about the follicle "reminds women that taking a supplement of folic acid daily is the best way to reduce the risk of having a baby with a defect of the neural tube like the spina bifida," he says .

"For a healthy mother and baby, the only way to get proper levels of folic acid is to take it every day as a supplement of 400 micrograms and make the habit – taking a daily supplement is the only way to go. There has been a recent debate On the fortification of foods with folic acid, but this is still very far. But even with fortified foods, taking the daily supplement provides the best protection against the spine and the brain of the fetus. "

Professor Michael Turner, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UCD, at the University Hospital, Coombe Women and Children, says that women should start folic acid before getting pregnant and not wait until they are planning a pregnancy or even after getting pregnant.

"Taking a supplement of folic acid of 400 micrograms per day can potentially prevent two-thirds of neural tube defects every year, on average, about 50 babies less affected each year," he says.

And Dr Rhona Mahony, a former National Maternity Hospital master, Holles Street, agrees:

"We know that women are aware of the benefits of taking folic acid, but until 50% of pregnancies are not planned, it is so important that all women who may become pregnant begin to drink it daily, even if the baby is the last one in your mind, "advises. "The neural tube of the baby is developed in the first weeks of pregnancy when many women do not know that they are pregnant and for that reason they need to be part of the folic acid of their daily routine."

In a recent online survey of Safefood, the most common barriers listed by women to take folic acid were of low relevance (42 percent); lack of advice on folic acid (40 percent); The belief that contraception was 100 percent effective (37 percent) and forget about taking folic acid (30 percent).

Pair of cents

But Foley Nolan says folic acid is widely available, it does not require a prescription and does not cost more than a couple of cents a day.

"Taking it daily, women are taking control of their own health," he says. "Taking this does not mean you are planning a baby, but it means that when you have a baby, not planned or far away in the future that may be, you are already helping to protect your health."

And midwife Tracy Donegan says that while folic acid is essential, natural folate is the best option.

"Most experts recommend taking 600 micrograms of folate daily to help prevent major birth defects of the brain and the backbone of the baby," says founder "Folic acid prevents them but does not have the other benefits to the health of natural folate.

"Some folates are already found in foods, but it may be difficult to get the recommended amount of your diet alone. For this reason, all women, and especially the person planning a pregnancy, should consider taking a daily vitamin supplement that contains acid Folic acid instead of folic acid whenever possible ".

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