Today is National Spina Bifida Awareness Day. An important fact to know: The chance of Spina Bifida occuring can be significantly reduced.
Check out this information from the web site of the Spina Bifida Association of America:
Spina Bifida is a birth defect that can happen to anyone. There is no known cause of Spina Bifida, but research has shown that if a woman takes 400 mcg of folic acid every day, before she becomes pregnant, she reduces her risk of having a baby with Spina Bifida or another neural tube defect by as much as 70%. The exact cause of the remaining cases is unknown, but it is believed that genetics and environment may play a role.
Each of the 65 million women of childbearing age in the U.S. is at risk for having a pregnancy affected by a birth defect like Spina Bifida.
Folic acid can help reduce that risk by up to 70% – but it needs to be taken prior to conception because the brain and spine of the fetus develop within the first 28 days of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.
Folic acid comes from foods like green vegetables, fruits and juices. Some cereal and bread have folic acid added to them. A diet high in folate is good for you, but most people do not get enough through food alone.
The best way to get the right amount is to eat a healthy diet, and take a vitamin with folic acid every day.
SBA encourages EVERY woman of childbearing age to take a daily dose of 400 mcg of folic acid each day.
All women who could become pregnant are at risk for having a pregnancy affected by Spina Bifida. Women who have:
- A child with Spina Bifida
- Spina Bifida themselves
- Already had a pregnancy affected by any neural tube defect
are at greater risk of having a child affected by Spina Bifida or another neural tube defect (NTD). These women have an increased risk of having a future affected pregnancy or recurrence. If any of these apply, you should talk with your health care provider about your folic acid needs.
Folic Acid Recommendations for ALL Women of Childbearing Age:
- All women of childbearing age need a daily dose of 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of synthetic folic acid, in addition to a healthy diet.
- This amount is available through a multivitamin, available in stores.
Additional Recommendations for Women with a Family History of NTDs:
- A higher prescription dose of 4000 micrograms (4.0 mg) beginning one to three months before pregnancy and in the first trimester of pregnancy, reduces the risk of having another affected pregnancy by up to 70 percent.
- This amount is available through prescription of four 1.0 mg tablets daily.
Share this information with any woman who may benefit from increased awareness of the cause of neural tube defects, like Spina Bifida.