Pregnancy guide


Your baby’s brain, skull and spine form during the first few weeks of pregnancy, before you even know you are expecting. In order for them to form properly, you must have enough folic acid.

What is folic acid ?

Folic acid is one of the B vitamins important for the healthy growth of your unborn baby. It is essential to the normal development of your baby’s spine, brain and skull, especially during the first four weeks of your pregnancy. It is, therefore, important to start taking acid folic before you get pregnant in order to reduce the risk on neural tube defects.

What are neural tube defects ?

Neural tube defects are birth defects that occur when the neural tube fails to close properly during the early weeks of pregnancy, resulting in abnormalities of the spine, brain or skull that can result in stillbirth or lifelong disability.
Closure of the neural tube happens early in pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. Spina bifida is the most common neural tube defects.

Take a folic acid daily.

All women who could become pregnant should take 0,4 mg of folic acid every day.To help reduce the risk of neural tube defects, you should start taking a folic acid supplement at least three months before you get pregnant and continue through the first four months of your pregnancy.

Some women are more at risk of having a baby with a neural tube defects.

If you have had a previous neural tube defect pregnancy, or have a family history of this problem, see your doctor.You may be advised to take a higher dosage of folic acid.If you have diabetes, obesity or epilepsy, you may be at higher risk of having a baby with neural tube defects, and you should see your doctor before planning a pregnancy.

Eat a balanced diet.

Taking a vitamin supplement does not reduce or replace the need for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Good or excellent sources of folic acid include dark green vegetables ( broccoli, spinach, peas and Brussels sprouts ), corn, dried peas, beans, lentils, oranges and orange juice. Whole grain breads and foods fortified with folic acid also provide significant amounts of the vitamin.

Can neural tube defects be detected before birth ?

Some neural tube defects can be detected before birth by prenatal screening tests. If you are pregnant and wish to know more about the prenatal diagnosis of neural tube defects, talk to your doctor about the prenatal blood test or ultrasound test that can give you more information about whether your unborn baby has a neural tube defect.

Is it possible to get too much folic acid ?

Do not take more than one daily dose of vitamin supplement as indicated on the product label. Increasing your dose of folic acid beyond 1 mg per day without an advice of a doctor is not recommended.

For additional information

Guide summary