Folic acid is critical to the health of babies and can help prevent neural tube birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
Folic acid is a B vitamin essential for the growth and repair of cells.
Also known as folate or folacin, it's a vital part of a woman’s diet before and during pregnancy, particularly during the first four to six weeks when a baby’s brain and spinal cord are being formed.
Research shows that up to 70 percent of neural tube defects could be prevented if all women of child-bearing age consumed enough folic acid every day.
Unfortunately, nine out of 10 women do not know that they need adequate amounts of folic acid in their diets before and during their pregnancy.
To address this, many common foods are now being fortified with folic acid.
The availability of folic acid in products such as bread flour, pasta and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals helps to address and reduce the incidence of neural tube defects.
Foods rich in folic acid include: