February 28, 2007

Feb. 28, 2007: Prenatal Vitamin

Vitamins key for fetuses
Broad study finds daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid can prevent cancer and certain birth defects
, Globe and Mail, February 26, 2007
Women who take a daily multivitamin before and during pregnancy sharply reduce the likelihood that their children will develop leukemia, brain tumors and other forms of childhood cancer, according to new Canadian research.

The startling finding that a cheap supplement purchased at the drugstore can prevent cancer as well as a range of birth defects adds weight to the theory that micronutrients have lifelong health benefits for the developing fetus. It also bolsters the case for having all women of childbearing age take multivitamins, particularly those rich in folic acid.

[....] A prenatal multivitamin is specially designed to foster normal fetal development. It contains more folic acid, more iron and less vitamin A than a regular multivitamin.

Earlier research has shown dramatic benefits of taking prenatal multivitamins. These include sharply lower rates of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, cardiovascular defects, limb deformities, cleft palate, urinary-tract defects and hydrocephalus.

Evidence of the importance of micronutrients - and folic acid in particular - has been growing for years. Folate is found naturally in leafy green vegetables, including spinach, in citrus fruits and in dried beans. [....]

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