Your doctor has told you that you must take your prenatal vitamin containing folic acid each and every day. But why is folic acid so important, and what exactly does it do for your unborn baby during pregnancy? (Also read What is folic acid?)
Studies have shown that mothers who were deficient in folic acid during pregnancy were two to three times more likely to have a premature or low birth rate baby that those who got enough folic acid.
Adequate folic acid has been shown to decrease chances of spina bifida and anencephaly (severly underdeveloped brain and skull). It also reduces the chances of cleft lip, cleft palate and heart defects. Folic acid is also key in the production of the baby’s DNA.
If you are trying to conceive, research has shown that is is beneficial to start taking folic acid at least one month prior to conception.