One of the strongest instincts in life is to protect your baby. But you don’t have to wait until you see your baby for the first time. You can start taking care of your baby today, even before you’re pregnant. An important way of protecting your baby is to take folic acid, especially before conception and during early pregnancy.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid (aka folate or folacin) is a vitamin B (B9) that can be found in most leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, leg-umes, lentils, kidney beans, enriched grains, and pills. It is recommended that all women should get 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid every day. This could prevent neural defects up to 70 percent. Since it is difficult to get enough folic acid from foods, taking a pill daily will ensure that you get the regular amount.
What is a neural tube defect?
There are 3 common neural tube defects:
- Spinabifida – an incomplete closure of the spinal cord and spinal column
- Anencephaly – severe underdevelopment of the brain
- Encephalocele – when brain tissue protrudes out to the skin from an abnormal opening in the skull
All these defects occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy, you might not even know you are pregnant. This is why it is so important for all women to get enough folic acid. Any woman who is capable of getting pregnant should take folic acid as only 50% of all pregnancies are planned.
*According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, between 2-4 of every thousand babies born in Canada have neural tube defects.