Canadians told of folic acid benefits

Related tags Folic acid Neural tube defects

Folic acid has received a lot of positive press in recent weeks,
and the benefits of the B vitamin continue to hit the headlines. In
Canada, the government has just launched a major campaign promoting
its effects in combating birth defects.

Anne McLellan, Canada's Minister of Health, this week launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of folic acid to help prevent birth defects.

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects. These birth defects include abnormalities of the spine, brain or skull that occur if a part of the developing foetus, called the neural tube, fails to close properly in early pregnancy. Spina bifida is the most common neural tube defect. About 260 babies are born in Canada each year with a neural tube defect.

"The goal of this awareness campaign is to provide women with the type of information they can use to help prevent birth defects that can result in a lifelong disability,"​ said McLellan.

The campaign includes advertisements in national magazines, posters in colleges, universities and fitness centres, and information pamphlets directed at women of child-bearing age. In addition, Health Canada is encouraging women to talk to their health professional about the benefits of folic acid.

As part of the campaign, Health Canada has developed a resource document for health professionals who are in the position to advise women about pregnancy.

Ongoing research has shown that the risk of babies having a neural tube defect is reduced when women take a daily vitamin supplement containing folic acid beginning before conception and in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Related topics Research

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