SBRN provides community prevention education on how taking folic acid before and during pregnancy can reduce the occurrence of spina bifida and other neural tube defects by up to 70%.
Through many interactive presentations on college campuses, at community events, health fairs and other venues, we spread the word that folic acid taken before becoming pregnant, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can dramatically reduce the risk of birth defects later. Our outcome measures indicate that through this program, participants gain knowledge about the need for folic acid and are motivated to make changes in their diets.
January 3-9, 2021 is Folic Acid Awareness week
- Research has shown that folic acid, taken before and during pregnancy, can help reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine such as spina bifida by up to 70%. Spina bifida occurs in the first few weeks after conception, before a woman knows she is pregnant, therefore it is important to be getting enough folic acid BEFORE becoming pregnant.
- Folate is a B vitamin (B9) found naturally in many foods, which is essential for healthy cell growth and development. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in vitamins and enriched cereals, pastas and breads.
- Folic acid is important when your body is building lots of new cells, like during the early stages of pregnancy. Folic acid is used by the body to manufacture DNA. DNA is required for rapid cell division and organ/tissue formation in the developing baby.
- Folic acid helps create healthy new cells, so parts of our bodies with fast growing cells, such as skin, hair and nails all need folic acid to stay healthy and beautiful.
- There are other reasons for everyone to get enough folic acid every day. Folic acid might also improve heart health and help prevent some cancers. It may also help with mild depression.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated adding folic acid to all enriched cereal grain products in 1998. Subsequently, the prevalence rate of spina bifida declined 31% from pre-fortification rates. Foods fortified with folic acid include: breakfast cereals; enriched bread, rice, pasta and other grain products.
- Foods high in naturally occurring folate include broccoli, avocado, leafy green vegetables, oranges, and legumes such as beans, lentils and nuts.
- It is sometimes difficult to get the recommended daily amount of 400 mcg through food alone. Therefore, it’s best to also take a multivitamin with folic acid or a folic acid vitamin on a daily basis.
- Personal or family history of spina bifida increases your chances of having a pregnancy affected by spina bifida. A doctor may prescribe a higher daily dose of folic acid (4mg) for people at greater risk.
- Not all birth defects can be prevented and even with the best prenatal care, spina bifida and other birth defects can still occur. But you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by doing what you can to be your healthiest self both before and during pregnancy.