Be Sure To Take Prenatal Vitamins: Especially if You Are Not Contracepting

Prenatal vitamins are important to begin before pregnancy. Many critical steps in fetal development occur before you even miss a period or get a positive pregnancy test, and its therefore important that you take these vitamins prior to pregnancy.  The two most common neural tube (NTDs) defects in the United State are spina bifida and anencephaly and approximately 4000 pregnancies each year are affected by these serious birth defects. Taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid supplementation prior to getting pregnant can reduce your child's chance of having these birth defect by over 70%, so take at lease 4 mg per day as the critical window of time is very early in pregnancy, in fact there are some creative ways to get the folic acid into your system. Gynos have been telling their patients to take folic acid, not just one dose, but daily, so a new way to get your folic acid in: taking birth control pills! The birth control pills Yasmin and Yaz have now added folic acid and thus become Safryal and Beyaz. It is mostly for birth defect prevention although there are some health benefits for adults. Folic acid and derivatives have been associated with lowering cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in adults, we still caution use of OCs by those over 35 who smoke (not a candidate to take birth control pills), or in any women with pre-existing risk factors for strokes or other cardiovascular disease, just a bit of folic acid is not going to combat all woes for the adult female! But the extra folic acid is important for a potential developing pregnancy. Folic acid supplementation will also decrease the incidence of lip and palate abnormalities, as well as prevent fetal heart defects. And a new study published in the Feb 13th 2013 JAMA showed that there was an association of folic acid deficiency during pregnancy and higher rates of autism. The CDC has long recommended that women from 15 to 45 (the 'reproductive years') all be on folic acid supplementation, with or without pregnancy. And prenatal vitamins have the appropriate amount of folic acid, so it's a good way to get this into your system. Many organizations endorse the folic acid strategy for lowering birth defects.  American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommended periconceptual use of a multivitamin supplement containing 0.4 mg of folic acid. But as always we recommend gabbing with your gyno for specific instructions.


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