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FOLIC ACID: For The Future. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Course Outline. What is folic acid? How do you get folic acid? Who needs folic acid? How do neural tube defects occur? What is a neural tube defect? What are the recommended levels of folic acid?

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folic acid for the future

FOLIC ACID:For The Future

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

This presentation was developed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior

Services through a grant from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

course outline
Course Outline
  • What is folic acid?
  • How do you get folic acid?
  • Who needs folic acid?
  • How do neural tube defects occur?
  • What is a neural tube defect?
  • What are the recommended levels of folic acid?
  • What can you do?
what is folic acid
What Is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of a water soluble B vitamin that is needed to:

  • Make new cells/cell division
  • Make normal-shaped red blood cells
  • Help prevent anemia
  • Help prevent birth defects
  • Help prevent heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
foods naturally high in folic acid
Foods Naturally High in Folic Acid
  • Liver
  • Nuts and peanut butter
  • Dried peas or beans
  • Juices: orange, pineapple, tomato
  • Fruits: orange, avocado, cantaloupe
  • Leafy green vegetables
fortified grain products
Fortified Grain Products

SOME of the cereals with 100% of the recommended daily value of folic acid per serving:

  • Just right with crunchy nuggets
  • Multi-grain cheerios plus
  • Product 19
  • Special K
  • Whole grain total
  • Total corn flakes
  • Total raisin bran
easiest way
Easiest Way!

Take a multi-vitamin with 400 mcg. of synthetic folic acid every day

who needs folic acid
Who Needs Folic Acid?
  • All women aged 14-50 who COULD become pregnant
  • Pregnant women
  • Everyone, including men
how do ntds occur
How Do NTDs Occur?
  • Baby’s brain and spine fail to close completely

Neural tube closing properly to form spinal column and brain.

what is a neural tube defect
What Is a Neural Tube Defect?
  • Spina Bifida – 60%
  • Anencephaly – 30%
  • Encephalocele – 10%
  • Neural tube defects (NTDs) are the second most common cause of infant mortality.
  • NTDs occur in 1 out of every 2,000 babies.
  • Upper end of the neural tube fails to close
  • Brain either never develops or is totally absent
  • 50% stillbirth rate
  • Usually fatal, 5% survive one week
  • Defect of the skull – smaller defect than anencephaly
  • Protrusion of brain or skin-covered brain
  • Rarer than the other types of NTDs
  • Overall mortality rate about 29%
spina bifida
Spina Bifida
  • Neural tube fails to close properly:
    • Occurs by 28 gestational days
  • Associated problems:
    • Hydrocephalus
    • Clubfoot
    • Vertebral anomalies
    • Renal anomalies
  • Requires surgery 24-48 hours after birth

The High Cost of NTDs

Financial Costs:Average estimated lifetime cost of $532,000 for each infant born with spina bifida (CDC 1999) adds an estimated 19 million dollars every year to Missouri resident lifetime costs associated with spina bifida.

Physical Costs:Possible paralysis (the leading cause of childhood paralysis), bowel and bladder control problems, learning disabilities, hydrocephalus, surgical procedures, latex allergies, increased health problems with age

Emotional Costs:Miscarriage, stillbirth, infant mortality (death before 1st birthday),

disability, feeling “different”

factors associated with increased risk of ntds
Family history of NTD

A previous pregnancy affected with NTD

Maternal insulin-dependent diabetes

Maternal obesity

Anti-epileptic drugs (Valporic Acid/Kepakene, Carbamazapine)

Lower socioeconomic/educational level



Exposure to high temperatures in pregnancy

Factors Associated With Increased Risk of NTDs. . .
what are the recommended levels of folic acid
What Are the Recommended Levels of Folic Acid?

U.S. Public Health Service recommendation:

“All women of childbearing age capable of becoming pregnant should consume 400 micrograms (or 0.4 milligrams) of folic acid daily.”

cdc recommendation
CDC Recommendation

“All women of childbearing age in the United States

who are capable of becoming pregnant

should consume 400 mcg. of folic acid per day

for the purpose of reducing their risk

of having a pregnancy affected

with a Neural Tube Defect.

Women who have had prior NTD-affected pregnancy

are at risk of having a subsequent affected pregnancy.”

folic acid for women
Folic Acid For Women
  • All women of childbearing age should receive 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily.
  • Women who have had a previous child with NTD should receive 4000 micrograms (4 mg) of folic acid daily.
folic acid awareness survey of missouri women age 18 441
Folic Acid Awareness:Survey of Missouri Women Age 18-44

The survey highlights the following characteristics of

women in the survey who were less likely to take a daily

folic acid supplement.

Women aged 18-24 (37.1%)

Annual income less than $15,000 (27.1%)

Less than a High School diploma (19.2%)

High School diploma (39.1%)

1999 Missouri BRFSS


Reasons for Taking Folic Acid

Blood Pressure



Birth Defects




Strong Bones



1999 Missouri BRFSS

what can you do
What Can You Do?
  • Take a multivitamin with 400 mcg. of folic acid every day for your health.
  • Help spread the message about the need for folic acid for health and to reduce birth defects.
resource list
Resource List
  • Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Division of Nutritional Health and Services, 573-522-9144

  • Centers for Disease Control and
  • March of Dimes