Folate deficiency in expectant mother can produce a neural tube defect (NTD) in her fetus at around 3 weeks after conception
What is a Neural tube defect (NTD) ? - This most common birth defect occurs in ~ 1 in 1,000 U.S. live births results from a folate deficiency affecting the neural tube in the developing fetus. The top part of the neural tube forms the baby's brain and the bottom part unfolds to become the baby's spinal column.An opening in the spinal cord or brain occurs very early in human development and normally fuses to form the neural tube around the 3rd week of pregnancy. An NTD develops when the neural tube does not close completely, resulting in serious brain and spinal problems.
An NTD occurs on days 27-29 after conception (i.e. before many women are even aware they are pregnant) - thus not allowing an opportunity after conception to raise the mother's (and therefore the newly-conceived infant's) folate levels to reduce NTD risk .
Sufficient folate (vitamin B9) and its cofactor vitamin B12 reduce NTD occurrences - since folate is required for production and maintenance of new cells, for DNA synthesis and RNA synthesis.
Molloy, A. M.; Kirke, P. N.; Troendle, J. F.; Burke, H.; Sutton, M.; Brody, L. C.; Scott, JM; Mills, JL (2009). "Maternal Vitamin B-12 Status and Risk of Neural Tube Defects in a Population With High Neural Tube Defect Prevalence and No Folic Acid Fortification. [Article]". Pediatrics 123(3): 917-923. doi:10.1542/peds.2008-1173. PMID19255021.
- Vitamin B12 is an important receptor in the folate synthesis pathway - and studies have shown that vitamin B12 deficiency contributes to risk of NTDs.
Every woman who has any chance at all of becoming pregnant should:
- Ensure folate sources in you diet - particularly green vegetables, beans, peas, brewer's yeast, and liver (only organic).
- Take a folate supplement together with its cofactor vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin form)
It is important that these supplements are in the correct form
For details, see:
Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Have the NHI test (see below) especially If planning an imminent pregnancy - with a low folate test result,a woman should immediately have a series of folate injections;
For anyone else - ensure your diet contains sufficient folate.
Neutrophilic Hypersegmentation Index (NHI) Test for Folate Status
If you have any chance at all of becoming pregnant,this inexpensive blood test can confirm your folate levels
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