Folic Acid Benefits Extends Beyond Pregnancy

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Increased folic acid intake during pregnancy results in fewer babies born with heart defects, according to a study from the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention in Ontario, Canada. The researchers reviewed data from 901,701 live births between 1990 and 2011. Folic acid fortification of grains began in 1998 in Canada. During the study, there was an 11% decline in rates of congenital heart defects overall that coincided with fortification. The biggest declines of up to 27% were in structural defects of the heart, such as a narrowing of the aorta (the major artery) or holes in the wall of the heart, which is the most common type of defect in children.  The authors conclude that women who are likely to get pregnant should start taking folic acid supplements before conceiving, because they are likely not to get enough of the vitamin from food alone.

 

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