Folic acid is a B vitamin needed to make new cells in our bodies.
It is especially important for women who maybecome pregnant, since folic acid can help prevent major defects of the baby'sbrain and spine, including anencephaly and spina bifida, by 50-70 percent, accordingto the Centers for Disease Control.
Folic acid is important for everyone, but it is especially important for women to take folic acid before becoming pregnant and throughout the pregnancy. It is important to take before becoming pregnant because fetal brain and spinal development occur early in pregnancy.
The daily recommended value for folic acid is 400 micrograms. Ways to be sure you are getting enough include: eating cereal fortified with 100 percent of the daily value for folic acid or take a supplement such as a prenatal vitamin.
Here are some statistics from the seven county Two Rivers Public Health Departmentarea: (2004-2008 Rate per 1,000 Live Births CHA)
- Incidence of birth defects: 62.6 TRPHD vs. 50.2 in Nebraska
- Incidence of neural tube defects: 1.4 TRPHD vs. 1.0 in Nebraska
For moreinformation, look up folic acid on www.cdc.gov.