by: News Canada
(NC)-Mississauga mother Susan Walsh gives a bottle of multivitamins containing folic acid to the bride-to-be at every wedding shower she attends. Th is is her way of ensuring that all women take folic acid before getting pregnant, in order to help reduce their risk of having a baby with a birth defect.
In 1996, Susan’s son Jacob was born with a mild case of spina bifida. He u nderwent surgery at 10 weeks, but he still has regular neurological appointments at the Hospital for Sick Children to ensure he stays healthy.
While Susan feels fortunate that Jake was mildly affected by this birth defect, as a parent she can’t help but feel responsible for his well-being.
“When I found out that I might have been able to prevent Jacob’s birth defect simply by taking a multivitamin everyday, I was shocked,” says Susan. “My pre gnancy was planned. I quit d rinking, smoking and even quit drinking diet cola – one of the hardest vices to give up. I would h ave taken a multivitamin too, if I’d known how important it was.”
It i s recommended that all women of childbearing age eat a healthy, well-balanced diet including foods high in folate like asparagus, broccoli, orange juice, lentils and peanut butter. However, ev en the best food choices will not supply all of the folic acid required. To ensure th at a woman is getting enough folic acid to help her reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, she should take a daily multivitamin containing a minimum of 0.4mg folic acid.
However , women who are at higher risk of having a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects require a higher dosage of folic acid and should consult with their physicians.
Derryn G ill, Chair of the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario, and mother of a child with spina bifida and hydrocephalus knew about folic acid 22 years ago when she first planned on getting pregnant. She was ahead o f her time