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Vitamin B supplementation before conception improves health of newborns

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(NaturalNews) Researchers have found that women who take folic acid (which is a B vitamin), before conception have a reduced risk of giving birth to children who are small for their gestational age (SGA). SGA is considered as having a birth weight less than the 10th percentile or falling in the lowest 10% of babies that are born.

The study, based on the UK population, involved assessing over 108,000 pregnancies, where nearly 85 percent of women were taking folic acid during their pregnancy. Over 39,000 pregnancies were examined to review the time in which folic acid supplementation began, determining that in 25.5 percent of the cases, it was taken prior to conception.

UK birth weight study shows SGA occurred most frequently when no folate taken

The findings, which were published recently in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and highlighted in a media release, which stated the following:

Results show that the overall proportion of babies with a birth weight under the 10th and 5th centile was 13.4% and 7% respectively. The highest rate of SGA occurred in pregnancies where no folate had been taken, with 16.3% under the 10th centile and 8.9% under the 5th centile. When comparing pre- and post-conceptual folic acid supplementation, the prevalence of birth weight lower than the 10th centile was 9.9% and 13.8% respectively, while that of birth weight under the 5th centile was 4.8% and 7.1% respectively.(1)

More details of the UK study can be read in this PDF link.

The link between folate supplementation and a healthier baby

"The population study is the largest database to look at the timing of folate intake and the risk of a baby being SGA," says BJOG deputy editor-in-chief John Thorp. "The findings of this study are of particular importance because growth restriction is known to be associated with poor short and long term outcomes and currently there are no established preventative treatment options for SGA."

SGA is linked not only to an increase in neonatal morbidity and mortality, but the changes of developing chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension, mental health problems and cardiovascular disease may increase later in life. As such, the findings demonstrate the importance of heeding the advice to take such supplementation.

Khaled Ismail, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Birmingham and co-author of the study, says that "Increased uptake of folic acid prior to pregnancy and throughout the first trimester could have significant public health benefits given the poor outcomes associated with SGA babies. New strategies are therefore vital to improve the lives of both mothers and babies."

Other studies also show the importance of folate supplementation before pregnancy

While this finding certainly shows that taking a B vitamin could help the health of a newborn, the authors note that most people unfortunately do not abide by recommendations to take folic acid supplementation. They explain that in the UK, the advice to supplement in this manner is not well followed, stressing the importance of finding more ways to encourage consumption and increase uptake.

Other studies have also honed in on a woman and child's health when it comes to consumption of folate prior to conception.

One finding, for example, came from experts at the University of Texas Medical Branch, loicated in Galveston, Texas. They analyzed nearly 35,000 pregnant women and found there to be a link between these women taking folic acid supplements for at least a year before conception and a 50 percent reduction in spontaneous premature birth between 28-32 weeks.

Beyond SGA, folate also helps to prevent neural tube defects such as the absence of a major portion of brain and skull in which a baby either dies soon after birth or is stillborn (Anencephaly) and situations where vertebrae are not properly fused (Spina bifida). Additionally, the nutrient also plays a role in preventing malformations such as cleft palate, urinary tract defects and respiratory system problems.

Folate-rich food sources

Obtaining folate can be as easy as eating more foods that are high in the nutrient.

Foods such as kidney, garbanzo, navy and black beans and vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus and spinach are a very good source of folate. Carrots, nuts and seeds, strawberries and avocado are also ways to obtain folate.




[PDF] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

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