Folic acid use before and during pregnancy. Folic acid (vitamin B11) is a vitamin from the group of B vitamins. It is important for the proper functioning of the body and for the production of red and white blood cells. Furthermore, it is very important in the early development of the unborn child. It occurs in various foods, such as green vegetables, bread, liver, fruit, and potatoes.
When you eat healthy and varied, you will receive sufficient folic acid under normal circumstances. But during pregnancy, the need for folic acid is greater. Extra folic acid then helps to reduce the chance of birth defects.
It is, therefore, best to immediately start taking a folic acid tablet with a pregnancy wish.
See also, Ultrasound scan during pregnancy
Why is extra folic acid advised?
In the first weeks of pregnancy, an important structure is formed in the embryo: the neural tube. This structure later grows into the spinal cord and brain. Folic acid deficiency can cause the neural tube of the embryo to not develop properly. This can lead to birth defects.
The best known of these is the open spine (spina bifida), other congenital abnormalities that can be caused by this: heart abnormalities, abnormalities of the arms or legs and cleft lip and / or palate.
Extra folic acid during pregnancy reduces the chance of these abnormalities, but cannot rule them out.
What exactly is the advice?
Extra folic acid is advised for all women with a pregnancy wish. 1 tablet of 0.5 mg daily until the eleventh week of pregnancy is sufficient.
Women who have previously had a child with, for example, an open back or an open head, are advised to take a tablet with 5 mg folic acid daily. Consult this in advance with your doctor.
How can you best follow the advice?
Four weeks before stopping contraceptives, start taking folic acid. It does not matter which contraceptive method you use.
When you are ten weeks pregnant, you no longer need extra folic acid. You can then stop swallowing the tablets.
If you do not become pregnant immediately after stopping the contraceptives, you can continue to take folic acid tablets. The extra folic acid is not harmful to you and your child.
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