Folic acid prevents Neural Tube Defects

DUBAI, In a bid to raise awareness about the importance of folic acid consumption in reducing Neural Tube Defects, NTDs, Latifa Hospital’s Paediatric Surgery Department launched an awareness campaign on the subject.

According to international statistics, 50 to 70 percent of NTDs , which are birth defects of the spinal cord, can be prevented by folic acid consumption. “Hence, it is very important for the community to be educated about folic acid,” said Dr. Ghadir Jaber, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Latifa Hospital.

Dr. Jaber said folic acid is the single most important factor to decrease the risk of NTDs, which have a physical, psychological and financial impact on the patient, family, as well as the society as a whole.

“Folic acid consumption reduces the risk of birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Therefore, it is advisable that all married women of child-bearing age should take 400mcg of folic acid daily,” she said.

Dr. Jaber said dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach are sources of folic acid. Dried legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are naturally good sources of folate. Other sources can be supplements.

“Women should start folic acid at least one month before conception and should continue to take it during the first three months. Taking 400mcg of folic acid at least one month before conception and during the first trimester will reduce the chance of having a baby with NTDs by 50-70 percent,” she added.

While folic acid would not prevent all NTDs, Dr. Jaber said it is the single most important factor to decrease its risk.

“Many women are still unaware of the importance of folic acid or are not educated about its right time (before pregnancy). This puts thousands of pregnancies at unnecessary risk, so we aim to communicate this important message more powerfully to protect many vulnerable pregnancies in Dubai, UAE. As a distinguished department that is committed to the welfare of the community, we are keen on raising folic acid awareness in the UAE community,” she concluded.

Source: Emirates News Agency