Monday, November 20, 2006

Low Folic Acid Linked to Miscarriage

Oct. 15, 2002 -- Taking folic acid before becoming pregnant is one of the best ways to prevent certain birth defects, and now research suggests it may also lower the risk of early miscarriage.

"This is very encouraging data that suggest we may be reducing the risk of spontaneous abortions in the U.S. by fortifying certain foods," study researcher James L. Mills, MD, an NICHD epidemiologist, tells WebMD.

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a vitamin necessary for proper cell growth and embryo development. Women who get at least 400 micrograms of the vitamin from their diets during the first few weeks of pregnancy can reduce their unborn baby's risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) by as much as 70%. These birth defects include the paralyzing spinal disease spina bifida, and anencephaly, a fatal disease in which the brain does not develop.

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