The benefits of folic acid for pregnant women include preventing pregnancy complications and birth defects, according to WebMD. It also can protect the baby from premature birth, low birth weight and more.
Folic acid prevents babies from developing neural tube defects, WebMD states. Without enough folic acid in the mother's body, the baby's neural tube may not close completely, leading to serious and deadly conditions such as anencephaly and spina bifida. A mother who has a baby born with a neural tube defect can reduce the risk of having another child with these conditions by up to 70 percent by increasing her folic acid during pregnancy. Folic acid can also prevent cleft palate, miscarriage and poor growth in the uterus.
Researchers have linked an increase of folic acid intake during the second trimester with a reduced risk of preeclampsia, WebMD reports. Folic acid also improves general health by reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and some types of cancer.
A variety of foods can help pregnant women increase their folic acid, WebMD says. These foods include Great Northern beans, lentils and beef liver. Spinach, egg noodles and fortified cereals are also a significant source of folic acid.