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David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

The Underappreciated Vitamin for Healthy Children


Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.  Women need 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

For many women planning to have children, often the first thing their doctor tells them is to take their vitamins. Not just any vitamins but prenatal vitamins.

Prenatal vitamins are an important part of pregnancy nutrition — even before conception. Here’s why:

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend taking prenatal vitamins as standard procedure because even if you eat a healthy diet, you might fall short on key nutrients, prenatal vitamins can help fill any gaps. Most importantly, prenatal vitamins typically contain more folic acid than do standard adult multivitamins and with good reason.

Folic acid is an essential B-vitamin; therefore, everyone needs it in order to stay in good health. Folic acid helps build DNA and your body uses it for cell growth and reproduction. It’s particularly important for women between the ages of 15 and 45, according to the CDC to take 400 mcg of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant, to help prevent major birth defects of the baby's brain and spine and continue taking them throughout their pregnancy.

Folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTD) in developing babies by up to 70 percent. The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. In a five-year period from 2007 to 2011, New Mexico averaged 13 cases of spina bifida and five cases of anencephaly every year.

Because half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, NMDOH and the CDC recommend women keep folic acid in their diets, even if not planning to become pregnant. Too often, by the time women realize they’re pregnant, it might be too late to prevent those birth defects.

The CDC reports Hispanic babies are more likely than others in the US to be born with a NTD. Research shows Hispanics in the US consume the least amount of folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid among racial or ethnic groups.

The CDC first began researching folic acid’s role in preventing birth defects in the early 1980s, and early studies found the risk for having a baby birth defects was reduced if the mother had taken folic acid around the time of conception.

That research lead the US Public Health Service (PHS) to release the 1992 recommendation still used today that all women who could become pregnant should get 400 mcg of folic acid each day as well as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 to require many grains, pastas and breakfast cereals be fortified with folic acid.

Remember, prenatal vitamins are a complement to a healthy diet — not a substitute for good nutrition. Prenatal vitamins won't necessarily meet 100 percent of our vitamin and mineral needs. We still have to eat right.

For more information on folic acid consult your doctor or visit the Folic Acid Information page.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.


Versión en Español

En un esfuerzo para hacer que nuestros comunicados de prensa sean más accesibles, también tenemos disponibles una versión en español. Por favor presione el enlace de abajo para acceder a la traducción.

La Vitamina Subestimada Para Niños Saludables