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Expecting mothers urged to have folic acid

Folic acid can prevent 70% of spinal defects at birth

Gulf News

Dubai: About 70 per cent of birth defects related to the spinal cord can be prevented if pregnant mothers do not suffer from folic acid deficiency.

In a bid to raise awareness about the importance of folic acid consumption in reducing neural tube defects (NTDs) which are birth defects of the spinal cord, Latifa Hospital’s paediatric surgery department launched an awareness campaign on the topic.

Dr Ghadir Jaber, consultant paediatric surgeon at Latifa Hospital, said: “It is very important for the community to be educated about folic acid as it is the single most important factor to decrease the risk of NTDs which trigger physical, psychological and financial burden on the patient, family as well as the society as a whole.”

Dr Jaber added that folic acid consumption reduces the risk of birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord, therefore it is advisable that all married women of child-bearing age should take 400mcg of folic acid daily.

Dr Jaber said sources of folic acid are in dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and dried legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are naturally good sources of folate. Other sources can be from taking supplements.

“Women should start folic acid consumption at least a month before conception and should continue to take it during the first trimester.

“Taking 400mcg of folic acid for at least a month before conception and during the first trimester will reduce the chance of having a baby with NTDs by 50-70 per cent,” she said.

Folic acid cannot prevent all NTDs but is the single most important factor to decrease the risk of NTDs.