Advice to childbearing-age women: Take more folic acid
February 18, 1997
Web posted at: 10:30 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Women of childbearing age need more than
fruits and vegetables to get enough folic acid to guard
against birth defects, a study concludes.
Such women should increase their folic acid intake with
either fortified cereal or vitamin supplements, researchers
say in this week's Journal of the American Medical
The study says vitamin B can prevent birth defects of the
spine and brain. Every year, 2,500 babies in the United
States are born with neural tube defects. Medical experts
have learned that at least half of these problems could be
prevented if pregnant women ingested enough folic acid.
The March of Dimes has been campaigning for years to get
women to take folic acid supplements before conception and
during the earliest weeks of pregnancy, when the baby's
spinal column is forming.
"The only sure way a woman of childbearing age can get enough
folic acid is to take a vitamin pill containing folic acid
every day," said Dr. Richard Johnston of the March of Dimes.
Folic acid is found naturally in foods such as orange juice,
broccoli and spinach. Starting next year, manufacturers will
add folic acid to cereal, bread, pasta, rice and flour. Some
cereals already are fortified.
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