Folic acid cuts risk of premature birth

Taking folic acid can cut risk of premature births

Taking folic acid supplements for a year before pregnancy can reduce the risk of premature births by 70%, researchers have discovered.

At present one in three babies born under 28 weeks die and many others face disabilities.

The new research from of a study of 40,000 women has prompted further calls for flour and bread to be fortified with folic acid.

Folic acid has long been recommended as a supplement for women planning a family to cut the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, which can cause severe disabilities. However, this study proves the supplement has further benefits.

One consultant obstetrician, Tim Draycott said of the new discovery: ‘[Premature births] are a tremendous burden on the children, the families and society…Anything that is potentially beneficial and particularly something as safe as folic acid – we would welcome as an intervention.’

Draycott also said fortifying foods such as flour would probably be more successful than expecting all women wanting to start a family to take the vitamin supplement. Currently, only a third of women take folic acid before falling pregnant.

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