Medications that block folic acid during pregnancy can cause birth defects

Thursday, November 19, 2009 by: Paul Louis, staff writer
Tags: folic acids, birth defects, health news

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(Natural News) An epidemiological study in Israel that included 84,832 babies born at Soroka Medical Center, in Beer-Sheva concluded that medications taken during the first trimester that block folic acid more than double the risk of congenital malformations.

The study team involved Epidemiologists, Pediatricians, Clinical Pharmacologists, Obstetricians and Gynecologists who examined birth and abortion data collected in Israel between 1998 and 2007.

The medications that act as folic acid inhibitors are the antibiotics trimethoprim, sulfasalazine for treating ulcerative colitis, and the chemotherapy drug methotrexate. This group of drugs prevents folic acid from being converted to its active metabolites.

Anti-epileptic drugs and cholesterol lowering drugs are among the group of medications that lower serum and tissue concentrations of folic acid.

All about folic acid

Folic acid (B9) is also known as folate or folacin. It is essential for building new cells, and everyone needs it. But it is especially crucial for a woman's physiological fetal function during pregnancy. Abundant folic acid during early pregnancy is important for preventing neurological and spinal birth defects.

Doctors are now recommending extra folic acid intake for women during the first trimester of pregnancy. Folic acid is abundant in leafy green vegetables, grains, dried beans, peas, nuts, and fruit. Adding daily supplements of folic acid is usually recommended.

The most common major birth defect from folic acid deficiency is spina bifida, or open spine. It is the result of the fetal spinal cord not closing completely during the first month of pregnancy. Nerve damage can result in the child's paralysis of the legs, fluid in the brain, learning difficulties, and urinary or bowel problems. There is no cure for this birth defect.

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