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What are the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy?

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Quick Answer

Taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy can prevent spina bifida in the developing fetus, according to WebMD. Spina bifida is the most-common permanently disabling birth defect, according to the Spina Bifida Association, with eight affected babies born in the United States every day.

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What are the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy?
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Full Answer

Birth defects occur during the first three to four weeks of pregnancy. Because half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that all women of childbearing age take folic acid supplements. The recommended dosage rises to 600 micrograms for the fourth through ninth months of pregnancy, and 500 micrograms for women who are breast-feeding, according to WebMD. Women who have had a child with spina bifida, who have had an affected pregnancy or who have the disorder themselves should take 4,000 micrograms daily from one to three months before and during the first three months of pregnancy. Children born with spina bifida are at risk for mental and social problems, difficulty walking and using the toilet, latex allergy, obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, skin problems, learning disability, depression, tendonitis and sexual dysfunction, explains the Spina Bifida Association. In its most severe form, spina bifida cause nerve disorders and brain damage in affected children.

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