Folate is a B vitamin that occurs in food. Folic acid is the synthetic version of this vitamin that is found in supplements and fortified foods.
Thinking About Getting Pregnant?
Congratulations on Your Pregnancy! (for those who are newly pregnant)
What is a healthy pregnancy weight gain?
Can I continue to eat a vegetarian diet during pregnancy?
A Pregnancy Menu For You and Your Baby
Treating Nausea and Vomiting
What About Seafood?
Don't Eat That!
Pregnancy and Cholesterol
Wash Those Veggies!
Breastmilk, the Healthiest Diet for Babies
What DOES that Broccoli Do for My Baby?
Vitamin D Supplements in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
New Research Affirms Individualized Vitamin D Supplementation for Pregnant Women
Breastfeeding: Developing a Future Gourmet
What to Do About The Flu
Decreasing the Risk of Gestation Diabetes
Keeping and Storing Breastmilk
Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines – Do We Need New Ones?
Breastfeeding: A Woman's Health Issue
Eating During Labor
Probiotics and a Decreased Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Pregnancy - a Time to be Active!
Clearing the Air : Quit Smoking for You and Your Child
What is a Healthy Pregnancy Diet for Obese Women?
Does Iron Intake Matter?
One Fish, Two Fish... Full Term Birth?
Folic acid in pregnancy and language development
A Mediterranean Diet, Pre-Pregnancy
There is No Substitute for a Healthy Diet
Honest Healthy Diets for Babies
Exercise for New Moms
A Healthy Pre-Pregnancy Diet and Gestational Diabetes
Vitamin D and Gestational Diabetes
Great News About Breastfeeding
Peanuts and Pregnancy
Fried Foods and Gestational Diabetes
Iodine supplements - should you take them?
Prevent Gestational Diabetes with a Mediterranean-style diet
FDA Updates Recommendations for Fish Consumption in Pregnancy
Faith's passion in nursing is to help people find the options they need to discover their personal path to optimum health. Ask her friends and they will tell you that their appreciation of nutritious food has grown through Faith. About Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN
Can a woman's diet in the year before her pregnancy affect her risk of having a child with a birth defect? Recently published research found a significant link (Arch Ped Adol Med 2011: DOI:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.185).
Researchers evaluated the quality of a woman's diet using both the Mediterranean Diet Score (encouraging legumes, grains, fruit, nuts, vegetables, fish, more monounsaturated fat than saturated fat and cautioning against over use of dairy, meat, and sweets) and the Diet Quality Index (which follows the USDA's plan of encouraging grains, vegetables, fruit, folate, iron, and calcium and cautioning against overuse of fats and sweets).
The birth defects reviewed in this study were neural tube defects, which develop in the first few weeks of pregnancy - before a woman may even realize that she is pregnant, and cleft lip or cleft palate, which develop later in the pregnancy.
Women who had high quality diets, using either index, had a significantly lower risk of birth defects than women with a lower quality diet - even after controlling for supplement use. The highest quality diets were associated with an up to 51% lower risk of anencephaly, 34% reduction of cleft lip, and 26% lower odds of cleft palate when compared with the lowest quality diet. Researchers reviewed data both before and after November 1997 (when the US began supplementing food with folic acid) and found similar results.
While this does not indicate that women should stop taking folic acid supplements, it seems to indicate that there are other nutrients that may be equally important in reducing birth defects, or it may be that nutrients work together in ways we don't yet understand. Folic acid supplementation has significantly decreased the risk of neural tube defects, but adequate folic acid does not prevent all neural tube defects or other birth defects.
So eat a variety of good quality food! Nourish both yourself and your yet-to-be-conceived child! What is a Healthy Pregnancy Diet?