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Folic acid

Most Women of Childbearing Age Fail on Folic Acid Intake

Tuesday, August 05, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: folic acid, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) The majority of U.S. women of childbearing age do not comply with government requirements to take a daily supplement of folic acid.

Folic acid and folate are two forms of vitamin B-9, and sufficient levels are required for the proper development of the fetal nervous system. Low maternal levels of folate can cause neural tube defects, including brain and spine abnormalities that can lead to disability or death.

Because the neural tube develops within the first weeks of pregnancy - before women typically realize that they are pregnant - it is important that women of childbearing age maintain sufficient levels of folate at all times.

Two studies published in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlight folic acid intake as a continuing maternal health issue.

In the first, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed the results of Gallup surveys conducted between 2003 and 2007 to determine women's awareness, knowledge and use of folic acid supplements. All women surveyed were between 18 and 45 years of age.

Excluding those with confirmed pregnancy, no more than 48 percent of women in any one age group took a folic acid supplement daily. Rate of supplementation was lowest among women between 18 and 24, ranging between 25 and 31 percent. Women between 18 and 24 also had the lowest awareness and knowledge about the importance of folic acid for healthy pregnancy.

In the second study, researchers from the CDC and the Puerto Rico Department of Health compared folic acid knowledge and consumption with the occurrence of neural tube defects among Puerto Rican women between 18 and 44 years of age between 1996 and 2006. In 1997, only 22.4 percent of women surveyed were aware of the importance of folic acid, and only 20.4 percent used supplements. These numbers rose to 70.2 and 30.9 percent respectively by 2003, but had fallen to 56.5 and 24.8 percent by 2006.

The occurrence of neural tube defects among Puerto Rican children fell between 1997 and 2003, and has remained steady since then.

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