January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. In addition, January 5-11 is recognized as National Folic Acid Awareness Week.
Approximately one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect in the United States. Babies born with birth defects are at high-risk for lifelong disabilities and/or infant mortality.
Folic acid is an important B vitamin that when taken before and during pregnancy can prevent major birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Because 49 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, it is important for every woman to take folic acid as part of their preconception health. The recommended daily dose for women is 400 mcg.
How to make sure you get your daily dose of folic acid:
- Take a multivitamin.
- Eat cereal. Most cereals are fortified with folic acid.
- Birth control. Some birth control pills have folates in them. If you’re already using the pill for contraception, ask your doctor about pills containing folic acid.
For more information about birth defects and folic acid, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Birth Defects web page.