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Inicio > Importance of Folic Acid in Pregnancy

Importance of Folic Acid in Pregnancy

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Know the importance of folic acid in pregnancy. *

Folic acid (Vitamin B9), also called folate or folate, is a water soluble vitamin B group. The name “folic” comes from the Latin form “folia” meaning leaf. The reason for this name is due to the fact that this vitamin was first discovered in the 40’s on spinach leaves. In fact, we should call folic acid the form produced by synthesis, while the vitamin form that comes from food should be called folacin.

Folic acid is essential for the proper functioning of our body. At the cellular level, its importance lies in its role in DNA synthesis (deoxyribonucleic acid or cell element that contains and transmits genetic traits) and RNA (necessary for the formation of proteins and other cellular processes). Thus, for the cells to duplicate correctly we need the presence of this vitamin.

Folic acid in pregnancy is essential for the cellular division necessary for the production of tissues and organs of the embryo and fetus.

Women who take the recommended amount of folic acid before pregnancy and during the first few months of pregnancy reduce the risk of having a preterm, low birth weight, or birth defect in the brain (anencephaly) , In the spinal column (spina bifida), and in the lip and palate (cleft lip). It is important to take folic acid prior to pregnancy since these problems develop very early: three to four weeks after conception.

Folic acid prevents by 78% the spina bifida, a pathology that affects multitude of organs, that carries sequels and that becomes very incapacitante.

Every woman of reproductive age should take 0.4 mg of folic acid daily; And during the first trimester of pregnancy 6 mg of folic acid per day.

Foods rich in folic acid:

  • Food of animal origin: This vitamin appears very little in animal sources. It can only be found in considerable proportions in chicken and beef liver. Milk or its derivatives contain very low amounts.
  • Foods of plant origin: Legumes, whole grains, green leafy vegetables and certain fruits are rich in this vitamin. Among them are chickpeas, peas, lentils, tender beans, spinach, asparagus, avocado, orange, cabbage, cauliflower, wheat germ or wholemeal bread.

Folic acid in pregnancy against prematurity:

Radek Bukowski, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas, recommends that women take folic acid supplements at least one year before they become pregnant to reduce the risk of having a preterm birth. Approximately 40,000 pregnant women taking folic acid for 12 months or more prior to pregnancy had a 50% lower risk of having a preterm birth, and a 70% lower risk of giving birth between weeks 20 and 28. This Study included only pregnant women with a single fetus.

Vitamin supplement for pregnant women

It is recommended:

  • Take folic acid or vitamin supplement with folic acid, which contains 400 mg of the vitamin.
  • Eat enriched cereals that contain 100% of the daily value of folic acid, at breakfast.
  • Increase the consumption of foods enriched with folic acid (pasta, cereals, bread, rice, and varied diet with foods containing this vitamin).

* Written by Dr. Margarita Bautista Kiota, Gineco-Obstetra, taken from the Peruvian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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