For the millions of women thinking about or trying to have a baby as the New Year gets underway, there’s an important checklist to focus on for preconception health.
It’s especially important for those considering becoming pregnant to know that each year in the U.S. thousands of infants are born with neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida and anencephaly. Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which parts of a baby's brain and skull do not form correctly. Babies born with anencephaly cannot survive. Spina bifida is a serious birth defect in which a baby's spine does not develop correctly and can result in severe physical disabilities. The CDC estimates that consuming folic acid can help reduce the number of cases of spina bifida and anencephaly by 50%.
Checklist for preconception health includes:
· Take a daily multivitamin containing folic acid
· Discuss your health history and medical conditions with your doctor
· Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
· Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause an infection at work or home
January 8th through the 14th has been designated as Folic Acid Awareness Week to emphasize the importance of folic acid for preconception health. I had a chance to post this interview with women’s health specialist Lisa Masterson, MD, to discuss everything women should know about the role of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects, including risk factors, how to minimize side effects and optimize absorption. She also outlines the checklist women need when preparing for pregnancy.
A former co-host on The Doctors, Dr. Masterson is a national expert in the areas of obstetrics, gynecology, infertility, adolescent gynecology and family planning.
Interview is courtesy: Duchesnay USA.
 Center for Disease Control. Recommendations for the use of folic acid to reduce the number of cases of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. MMWR 1992; 41(no. RR-14): 2-3. 2. IOM (Institute of Medicine). Available at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00019479.htm