Benefits of Folic Acid periconceptuallyFolic acid (Vitamin B9) is essential for DNA production andtherefore the development of the body since it provides one carbon units for purine(Adenine and Guanine) and pyrimidine (Cytosine and Thymine) synthesis.1The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that womenshould intake 400mcg per day, and this has been expressed by US PublicHealth Service (USPHS) as well.2This is vital for erythrocyte proliferation. For this reason, a deficiency inFolic acid leads to macrocytic anaemia which leads to other complications, suchas the inability to absorb nutrients through the intestines.3 “There are 3,000 pregnancies affectedby spina bifida or anencephaly, which are neural tube defects (NTDs) caused bythe incomplete closing of the spine and skull.” – CDC4 Periconceptually, folic acid is shown to be an important moleculesince it synthesizes DNA and therefore, it prevents prevent birth defects suchas neural tube defects (NTDs), in which the brain (anencephaly) and spine (spinabifida) are defected.
These defects can be expressed in the first few weeks of pregnancy.Neural tubes are formed from the ectoderm in a foetus andthe development of this is improper with a deficiency in folic acid. In Spina Bifida the Spinous Process ofsome of the lumbar vertebrae doesn’t fully develop due to failure of mesodermto organize and differentiate, leaving various degrees of opening down the middleof the lower back.5 Anencephaly isthe absence of a large portion of the cephalic region involving the skull,brain and the scalp that occurs during embryonic development.6The CDC reports that women who intake the daily requirement offolic acid (Vit B-9) beginning at least one month before conception and duringthe first three months of pregnancy, reduce their baby’s risk of neural tubedefects by up to 70%.7Three approaches to increase folate consumption have beenrecommended by the USPHS:”1. Improve dietary habits 2.
Fortifyfoods with folic acid and 3. Use dietary supplements containing folic acid”- CDC8 Mandatoryfortification of cereal grain breakfast products with folate (Vit – B9) wentinto effect in USA in January 1998 by a law that was implemented by USPHS. Thereport from this action is as follows: During October 1998–December 1999, thereported incidence of spina bifida declined 31%, and the incidence ofanencephaly declined by 16%. This showed that intake of Folate periconceptuallyis strongly correlated with a decrease in incidence of Neural Tube Defects 9 1Dr. Anne Molloy, Professor at TCD, Lecture Notes on Iron, Folate and VitaminB-122 https://www.babycenter.
com/0_folic-acid-why-you-need-it-before-and-during-pregnancy_476.bc3 https://www.livestrong.com/article/460663-the-benefits-of-taking-folic-acid-in-nonpregnant-women/4 https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/data.
html5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlDZA2PNW2o6 O’Rahilly,M; Muller, F (1992). Human Embryology & Teratology. New York: Wiley-Liss,Inc. p. 253.
ISBN 0471382256.7 https://www.babycenter.com/0_folic-acid-why-you-need-it-before-and-during-pregnancy_476.bc8 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5317a3.htm9 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5317a3.htm