Obstetrics clinic in Katy explains the importance of folic acid in pregnancy
Looking for an obstetrics clinic in Katy? Whether you are already pregnant or looking to get pregnant, you will find professional care with Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Falae of Jenkins Obstetrics, Gynecology Reproductive Medicine. Our team offers care before conception through postnatal care. Quality prenatal care is important for the baby’s and the mother’s health. Women who receive prenatal care are more likely to deliver a healthy baby. One crucial piece of pregnancy nutrition is folic acid. Prenatal vitamins with folic acid provide key nutrition for the developing baby.
Folic acid or folate has a role in red blood cell production and helps the baby’s neural tube develop properly into the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is a must-have piece of pregnancy nutrition. Taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. This vitamin should be taken daily. Pregnant women can eat foods fortified with folic acid as well. Folic acid can be found in fortified cereals, dark green vegetables, and citrus fruits.
Who needs folic acid?
Women who are ready to start a family should begin taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid prior to getting pregnant. Birth defects occur during the first few weeks of pregnancy. This means it is important to have folate in your system as the baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing. For women who find out they are pregnant and have not been taking folic acid, it is important to start right away to decrease the risk of the baby developing neural tube defects during the first few months of pregnancy.
The CDC recommends that all women of childbearing age take folic acid daily. More importantly, women should take folic acid for at least a month before getting pregnant and every day while pregnant, but it is fine to begin the vitamin regimen earlier. Patients who select an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin should take it to their obstetrics clinic to make sure it has the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals, including folic acid. Not all prenatal vitamins are created equal. Your obstetrician may recommend a specific brand or may give you a prescription vitamin.
The recommended dosage of folate varies depending on a patient’s needs or a possible family history of neural tube defects. Women of childbearing age should take 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Some physicians recommend 600-800 mcg of folate once pregnant. The importance of folic acid does not disappear once you give birth. Women who are breastfeeding should continue taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid.
Benefits of folic acid
Pregnant women without enough folic acid have a risk of having a baby whose neural tube does not close correctly. If the neural tube does not develop properly, health problems or defects may result. Neural tube defects may include:
- Spina bifida is the incomplete development of the spinal cord or vertebrae.
- Anencephaly is the incomplete development of major parts of the brain.
While it is scary to think of these defects, the good news is that getting enough folic acid protects your baby by at least 50%. If you have already had a baby with neural tube defects, the CDC states that getting enough folic acid may reduce your risk of having another baby with the defect by up to 70%. These patients may need to significantly increase their daily intake of folic acid. If you are unsure how much folic acid you need, contact your obstetrician for exact dosages.
When folic acid is taken as directed before and during pregnancy, it may help protect the unborn child against:
- Cleft lip or palate
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Poor growth
Pregnancy is an exciting period. Whether you are ready to start a family, just found out you are pregnant, or are pregnant for the third time, you understand the importance of prenatal care and quality obstetric services. At Jenkins Obstetrics, Gynecology Reproductive Medicine, we provide excellent care before, during, and after your pregnancy.
Contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Falae. Our professional team provides personal and quality care for women in all phases of life. Call 855 346 8610.