Do you want a healthy baby?

Feb 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Health

Then you have to start way before you conceive…

Most of us may or may not have heard of preconceptual folic acid supplementation which is the intake of folic acid at least a month before you get pregnant. This prevents the development of neural tube defects in   the baby.

What is the neural tube? It is the precursor to the central nervous system, which is the brain and spinal cord. Defects in the neural tube also known as NTDs (neural tube defect) is an opening in the spinal cord or brain and is one of the most common birth defects resulting in severe morbidity and mortality.

In addition to prevention of NTDs recent research done by the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) reports  on how folate  supplementation, during the pre-conception period, may reduce the risk of spontaneous early preterm birth by 50 – 70% for women taking folic acid a year before becoming pregnant.

Folic acid is a vitamin found naturally in leafy green vegetables, fruits and dried beans. For pregnant mothers folic acid supplementations are given in addition to the dietary intake to prevent the above defects. NICE (national institute for health and clinical excellence) guidelines recommend that pregnant women supplement their diet with 400micrograms of folic acid a day during the first trimester of pregnancy( first twelve weeks of pregnancy).

According to the above research done by the RCOG for the prevention of preterm birth (baby born before 37 completed weeks)  they have compared with women who had no supplementations of folic acid to women who had preconceptional folic acid for 1 year or longer with a 70% decrease in the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery between 20 and 28 wk…

In Sri Lanka all mothers are given a prophylactic dose of folic acid one tablet (5mg) orally per day during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy (1st trimester) which should have been started 2months prior to conception. Therefore ideally all women should plan their pregnancy well ahead and sought pre-pregnancy medical advice not only for you to start on preconceptional folic acid but also to exclude other medical conditions like Diabetes which needs to be in optimum control before you conceive to prevent complications during pregnancy. Once the pregnancy is diagnosed (e.g. urine pregnancy test) make the booking visit as early as possible in the hospital or village clinic/MOH clinic.

It is in your hands to give your baby the best start and the journey begins before you conceive!

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