Folic Acid Supplements Still Needed To Prevent Birth Defects

If you can get pregnant, you should be popping at least one pill a day: a folic acid supplement to lower the risk of a type of serious birth defect in any future offspring.

So says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which Tuesday reiterated its 2009 recommendation that all women who can conceive take 400 to 800 micrograms daily of the B vitamin in case their diet isn't providing enough of it.

Back in 1991, a study found that folic acid supplementation greatly reduced the risk of neural tube defects, a type of birth defect that includes anencephaly and spina bifida. In 1992, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that women take 400 micrograms as a daily supplement. And starting in 1998, to reach more women, the FDA required that manufacturers fortify cereal and other enriched grains with folic acid, which is the synthetic version of vitamin B9.

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