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Why Is Folic Acid So Important In Pregnancy?

Trying for a baby, or recently found out that you’re expecting the pitter patter of tiny feet? You’ve more than likely been advised to take a pregnancy multivitamin containing folic acid or a separate folic acid supplement!

First of all… what IS folic acid?

Folic acid is a form of folate, which is a group of B vitamins. It is also sometimes referred to as vitamin B9. Lots of ladies are deficient in this vitamin for various reasons, hence why the supplement is strongly advised.

What role does folic acid play in fetal development?

According to the Department of Health, it is recommend that women who are trying for a baby should take a daily doset of 400 micrograms of folic acid, and then should carry taking this dose for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the baby’s spine is developing. It is safe and often advised (my consultant did) to continue taking folic acid for the duration of your pregnancy.

Lack of folic acid is strongly linked to the occurrence of ‘neural tube defects’. Taking folic acid during pregnancy reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect by 70%!

What are neural tube defects?

During the first month after conception, your baby develops a basic and primitive structure of tissue known as the neural tube – this will eventually grow into other structures that are part of the spine and neurological system. Neural tube defects are a pretty serious birth defect. Examples include Spina Bifida and anacephaly, amongst many other forms.

Please don’t go searching on Google images as it’s upsetting.

How is a neural tube defect diagnosed?

Around 95% of neural tube defects have been picked up on by the time of the 18-20 week anomaly scan.

What is the prognosis of a neural tube defect?

They vary widely in severity, and many children with neural tube defects live happy & loving lives. However, they can be severe enough to mean that a baby won’t be ‘compatible with life outside the womb’, which is absolutely heartbreaking.

But my morning sickness is stopping me from being able to stomach my pregnancy vitamins…

If the tablet and liquid forms are making you vomit, THESE foods are rich in folate, so get as much of these in you as possible…

  • Dark leafy greens; kale, spinach, lettuce etc
  • Citrus fruit
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Pulses; lentils & beans
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Avocado
  • Sprouts
  • Okra
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Beetroot
  • Fortified cereal
  • Fortified pasta
  • Peas
  • Eggs
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupe melon
  • Tomatoes; particularly tomato juice as it’s more concentrated
  • Celery
  • Squash; butternut & pumpkin

To break it down; folic acid is extremely effective at promoting proper neural tube development in the early stages of pregnancy.

It’s super important that you take it, regardless of anyone who says they didn’t take it and had no problems, as it will massively reduce the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect – a whopping 70% reduction.

Team BBY wish you all a happy and healthy pregnancy! <3

Love from Katie. Xx

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