Logan County Health District officials are promoting awareness and education relating to Birth Defects Prevention Month throughout January, including Folic Acid Awareness Week that is marked this week.
This year’s prevention month theme is, “Best for You, Best for Baby.”
“We know that not all birth defects can be prevented, but you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by doing what you can to be your healthiest self both before and during pregnancy,” officials said. “What is best for you is also best for your baby.”
Folic acid is a B vitamin that the body uses to make new cells. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all women of reproductive age consume 400 mcg of folic acid, and pregnant women consume 600 mcg, each day to prevent two types of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly.
For folic acid to prevent birth defects, a woman needs to start taking it at least a month before she becomes pregnant and also throughout the pregnancy.
Good sources of folic acid include: legumes, including cooked lentils, black-eyed peas, kidney beans and chickpeas; whole grains; fruits (particularly citrus and avocados), vegetables (especially asparagus, brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens); and breakfast cereals.
Health officials recommended two key ways for women to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate amount of folic acid each day – by taking a multivitamin or a folic acid supplement (checking the label to ensure that it contains 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid) and also by eating a bowl of breakfast cereal, also with the 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid.
For additional nutritional advice throughout pregnancy and for other members of the family, call the Logan County Women, Infants and Children Program at (937) 599-3345.