Why is folate so important for pregnant and childbearing women?

Doctor Godfrey Oakley of the Center for Disease Control estimates that in the United States about 2000 infants are born each year with Neural Tube Defects (NTD) and about 1500 with these birth defects are aborted.

Folate is vital for the reproduction of the cells within the fetus. A deficiency affects normal cell division and protein synthesis, especially impairing growth.
Without a constant source of vitamin B9, birth defects can result such as NTD.

The neural tube development occurs early in fetal life when women may not even know they are pregnant.

The neural tube becomes the baby's brain and spinal cord during the first few weeks of pregnancy.


Spina Bifida can range from mild (spina bifida occulta) to severe (myelomeninge cole). The manifestation of severe spina bifida may cause paralysis, difficulties with bowel and bladder control. Learning problems may also occur.

Encephalocele is often associated with severe mental retardation, hearing and vision problem. Most babies affected by this complication can with proper medical treatment survive to adulthood. They will need leg braces, crutches and other devices to help them walk.Anencephaly is almost always lethal, usually resulting either in stillbirth or death within hours or days of births.

Realized by Laurence LIVERNAIS-SAETTEL, dietetian
© Copyright L. Livernais-Saettel 2000
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