As per Suzan Carmichael of Stanford University, many birth defects occur even before women know that they are pregnant. So, for those women that are planning to conceive or have just come to know that they are pregnant, it is important to eat lots of vegetables, fruits and grains and consume vitamin supplements that contain folic acid.
Grain products fortified with folic acid have been used by the U. S. department of agriculture since the late 1990s because studies revealed that brain and spine defects were directly linked to less folate in food of pregnant women. Pregnant women are also advised to take prenatal vitamins containing iron and folic acid.
Ms. Carmichael and her team took data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study and compared 3,400 women who had babies with cleft palate or lip or neural tube defects and 6,100 women who had babies with no defects. Each of these women went through a telephonic interview within 2 years of their baby being born.
The team got data on the range of good food they ate and whether they followed Mediterranean diet or the U. S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid. These diets are essentially high on grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and beans and low on meat, sweets and dairy products. They also got data on their smoking and drinking habits.
It was concluded that women that followed the U. S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid were half as likely to give birth to babies with anencephaly, 34% less likely to give birth to babies with cleft lip and 26% less likely to give birth to babies with cleft palate.
Luz de Regil from WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development has said that a good diet isn’t all during pregnancy. The diet should be rich in folic acid and include lots of fruits and vegetables.
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