The importance of folic acid pregnancy is unknown to many moms-to-be and it can have a serious impact on the health of your unborn child. Folic acid works to make more blood during pregnancy, which is something your body desperately needs at that time. Experts recommend taking a folic acid supplement of 400mcgs daily to ensure fetal health.
How Folic Acid Pregnancy Can Prevent Certain Birth Defects
If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important that you begin taking folic acid daily. A neural tube defect can develop during the first month of pregnancy, usually before the woman is even aware that she’s pregnant. If you weren’t actively trying to conceive, you should begin taking folic acid immediately after learning that you’re pregnant.
A lack of folic acid can increase the risks of neural tube defects, which develop in the spinal cord of the fetus. Spina bifida is a neural tube defect in which the spinal cord is exposed. The fluid in the spine, or the spinal cord itself can protrude through the lower back of the fetus. Your fetus will also be at risk for anencephaly, which involves the underdevelopment of the brain.
If you plan on having children in the future, experts recommend increasing your intake of foods that are rich in folic acid, such as rice, citrus fruits and leafy veggies. Other foods that are rich in folic acid include pastas, cereals, beans and breads. Taking a daily multi-vitamin can also help to prevent neural tube defects in a fetus. If you’re actively trying to conceive, your doctor will recommend taking a daily prenatal vitamin in addition to a folic acid supplement.
If you have had a past pregnancy that involved a neural tube defect then you’re at an increased risk for this issue to occur if you conceive again. Your doctor will want to closely monitor your pregnancy, which can require additional ultrasounds and blood tests.
The best way to prevent a neural tube defect is to take the recommended dose of folic acid for one to two months before conceiving and for twenty-eight days after conception. Most multi-vitamins contain folic acid, however, they often do not contain the recommended 400mcgs.
These birth defects are detected through an AFP test, which is performed during the beginning of the second trimester. Alpha fetoprotein is secreted by the fetus, into the amniotic fluid. The AFP test will measure the amount of alpha fetoprotein in the mother’s blood. A high amount of alpha fetoprotein can indicate a neural tube defect. The amount of alpha fetoprotein will peak in the blood during the last trimester.