Common Congenital Anomalies – Neural Tube Defects: Primary Prevention Policies


In 1998, the Canadian government required that white flour, enriched pasta, and cornmeal be fortified with folic acid.2 The Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada recommended that all women who could become pregnant take a supplement containing 0.4mg of folic acid and suggested a higher dose for women who are at increased risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect.3

1Lumley J, Watson L, Watson M, Bower C. Periconceptional supplementation with folate and/or multivitamins for preventing neural tube defects. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;3.
2Millar W. Folic Acid Supplementation. Statistics Canada, Health Reports (Catalogue 82-003-XIE0). Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2004;15(3):49–52.
3Van Allen MI, McCourt C, Lee NS. Preconception health: folic acid for the primary prevention of neural tube defects. A resource document for health professionals, 2002. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada; 2002. Catalogue No.: H39-607/2002E

Research shows that women can reduce their risks of having a baby with a neural tube defect by taking folic acid, or folate, which is a B vitamin. Folic acid is essential for the development of the baby’s brain and spine. Studies have shown that women who take enough folic acid supplements and eat a healthy diet before they become pregnant and during the early part of their pregnancy are less likely to have a baby with a neural tube defect.1          continued…

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