It is estimated that 3% of all newborns in the United States are affected by a birth defect. A new report highlights 18 defects that show up most often, and at the top of the list is cleft lip or palate.
Down syndrome is the second most common followed by intestinal trouble and heart defects. January is national birth defects prevention month. That is why the CDC is reminding women that a lot of these defects could be prevented if women would take folic acid during and even before they get pregnant.
Folic Acid is in a lot of the food we eat, but it's hard to get enough every day through food alone. So, the March of Dimes encourages all women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin that contains folic acid every day.
The reason women need to be taking it before they get pregnant is that it's most effective in the first few weeks when the baby's brain is developing, and that's usually when women don't know they're pregnant yet. So, if you are a woman of child bearing age, the March of Dimes says make it your New Year's resolution take folic acid every day.
Folic acid is found in the following foods: fortified breakfast cereals such as Total and Product 19, lentils, asparagus, spinach, black beans, peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy), orange juice (from concentrate is best), enriched breads and pasta, romaine lettuce, and broccoli.
Folic acid is good for mom and dad too. In recent years, doctors have come to realize that folic acid is very important for everyone in maintaining health. It has long been known that folic acid plays an important role in the production of normal red blood cells. More recent studies suggest that folic acid may help prevent heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.