Folic Acid’s Role in Pregnancy


PregnancyA healthy baby means that you’re healthy, too. One of the things you can do to prevent birth ailments and defects is to make sure your child gets enough folic acid daily, especially while they’re still in your womb.

Why is Folic Acid Important in Pregnancy?

Folic acid or folate is a B vitamin in leafy green vegetables, such as enriched grains, kale, spinach and orange juice. Studies have shown that women who consume 400 micrograms of this nutrient daily before conception and during the early stages of pregnancy reduce the risk of their baby developing birth defects, such as neural tube defect and craniofacial abnormalities.

Some of the most common neural tube defects are:

  1. Spina Bifida – this is an incomplete closure of the spinal column and cord.
  2. Anencephaly – this is a severe underdevelopment of the brain
  3. Encephalocele – this occurs when the brain tissue protrudes out of the skin because of a defect in the opening of the skull.

The Craniofacial Foundation of Utah says the common craniofacial defects may lead to complications in speech and facial development as a child ages. Some of its common forms are:

  1. Cleft Lip and/or Palate
  2. Craniosynostosis
  3. Hemifacial Microsomia
  4. Vascular Malformation
  5. Hemangioma

The development of inborn defects occurs during the first 28 days of your pregnancy. This is why it’s important for women of childbearing age to get enough folic acid, not just for themselves, but also for the well-being of their baby.

Birth Defects and Abnormalities

Birth defects and abnormalities occur because of genes, the environment and folic acid deficiency. Babies may get a certain combination of genes from one or both their parents, or a change during conception. It is unclear how folic acid plays such an important role in the development of an unborn child, but it is a vital nutrient in the formation of DNA. Lack of folate increases the possibility of your baby developing craniofacial abnormalities or other birth-related defects.

Eating folic acid-enriched food is not enough; you may need to take supplements to reach the required amount. However, pills shouldn’t take the place of eating the right way and taking care of your body.