If You Think You Might Have A Baby Some Day -- Think Folate Now

Woman enjoys dark green leafy vegetables, a good source of folateThe next time you enjoy a hearty breakfast including orange juice and cereal you may be doing yourself -- and any children you may have in the future -- a big favor.

Recent research shows that the B vitamin folate is an important nutrient, especially for women before and in the first weeks of pregnancy. If enough folate is in the mother's system at these times, it can help reduce the risk of certain serious birth defects, called neural tube defects, affecting the baby's brain and spinal cord. That's why it's important for all women of childbearing age to include folate in their diets daily. Folate is found in such foods as citrus juice and fortified cereal, and is available in some vitamin supplements as folic acid.

"Adequate folate should be eaten daily and throughout the childbearing years," says FDA's Elizabeth Yetley, Ph.D.

There are several ways to do this:

Folate's potential to reduce the risk of birth defects is so important, the FDA says food manufacturers must fortify enriched grain products with folic acid by 1998. This will give women another way to get sufficient folate: by eating fortified breads and other grains. Folic acid will be added to flour, bread, rolls, buns, farina, corn grits, cornmeal, rice and noodles.

For more information call FDA at 1-800-FDA-4010 (1-800-332-4010) or the March of Dimes at 1-800-326-BABY (1-800-326-2229).(NAPSI)

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