Are you trying to get pregnant? If so, it’s a good idea to stock up on folic acid. Why? Well some new research has shown that it could stop your child from developing a cleft lip or palate.
Researchers at Trinity College in Dublin have established that mothers-to-be are four times more likely to give birth to a child with a cleft lip or palate if they do not take folic acid in the first three months of their pregnancy.
The Irish Times reports that folic acid is essential during the early stages of pregnancy in order to ward off neural tube defects like spina bifida. However, the study from Trinity College is the first of its kind to show a strong link between taking folic acid and the risk of having a baby that has a cleft lip or palate.
Dervla Kelly and her colleagues from the department of public health and primary care at Trinity College used data from more than 11,000 babies to establish the effect that folic acid supplements can have when it comes to children developing a cleft lip or palate.
According to the study, cleft lip and palate occurred in 6.8 infants per 1,000 in women who did not take folic acid. Meanwhile those statistics dropped to 1.5 infants per 1,000 in women who did take the supplements.
“This study supports the hypothesis of a further significant role of a daily folic acid supplement of 0.4mg taken four weeks before conception and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the prevention of cleft lip and palate,” said Professor Tom O’Dowd, of the Trinity College department of general practice.
“By women taking this simple, cheap and safe supplement we can reduce the numbers affected by this disfiguring condition,” he added.
If you’re planning a pregnancy, it is recommended that you should take 400mg of folic acid a day from at least four weeks before, to 12 weeks after conception.
The study from Trinity College is to be published in the July issue of the British Journal of General Practice.