One of the best things you can do to help prevent your baby being born with serious birth defects is to take the recommended amount of folic acid. It has been recommended by the Government's Chief Medical Officer that "All women planning a pregnancy should take a 400mcg folic acid supplement daily from the start of trying to conceive until the 12th week of pregnancy".
The sort of birth defects that folic acid helps to prevent are serious neural tube defects, these are defects involving incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord such as spina bifida. Unfortunately these defects can occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy when you may not even know that you are pregnant.
Folic Acid is a member of the B complex of vitamins. It is available in most multivitamins, as a folic acid only supplement and in certain foods. Foods containing folate (which is the natural form of the vitamin) are:-
- leafy green vegetables
- orange juice
- fortified breakfast cereals
- romaine lettuce