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Reproductive & Child Health News

Low-dose Folic Acid Prevents Birth Defect

WASHINGTON, DC--In a study conducted in China, almost 130,000 women who took a folic acid supplement (0.4 mg per day) before becoming pregnant and during the first trimester had a 40 to 85 percent reduced risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD). This is compared to almost 120,000 women who did not take folic acid, according to a study published in the November 11, 1999, New England Journal of Medicine. Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., Vice President for Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) noted, "This is the first study to show that low-dose folic acid alone can dramatically reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect." Previous studies have shown similar results using high-dose folic acid (10 times as much as in this study) or multivitamins containing low-dose folic acid (0.36 mg to 0.8 mg). Folic acid is a B vitamin and 0.4 mg is equal to the recommended daily in-take.

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