Supplement manufacturing can help prevent birth defects by providing folic acid. Here at ABH Pharma we specialize in manufacturing folic acid and are helping the cause of decreasing birth defects. By providing supplements to our customers with the highest quality of folic acid it allows us to grant them peace of mind when nourishing their unborn children. With this fictional story about Kristy we will discuss how exactly providing top notch folic acid is helping supplement entrepreneurs reach soon to be mothers.
Kristy thinks she may want to have a baby someday, but wonders if her body is in the best shape possible for the health of her baby.
While she eats a healthy diet and engages in regular exercise, she worries that she should be doing more to avoid birth defects and other problems during a future pregnancy.
Healthcare professionals have known for decades that consuming folic acid tablets reduces a woman’s risk of having an infant affected by specific types of birth defects, known as neural tube defects.
The neural tube is the hollow structure where the brain and spinal cord form in a developing embryo. Neural tube defects affect the brain, spine, or spinal cord in that developing embryo.
Two of the most common neural tube defects are anencephaly and spina bifida.
In cases of anencephaly, most of the brain and skull do not develop; babies with anencephaly are often stillborn or die shortly after birth. In spina bifida, the spinal cord of the fetus does not close completely, and this can cause nerve damage leading to paralysis of the legs.
Anencephaly affects approximately 1200 pregnancies in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and about 1500 babies are born with spina bifida annually.
Getting enough folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects, but only if a woman gets enough of this B vitamin before the defects occur.
Many neural tube defects develop during the first month of a pregnancy.
This means that, by the time a woman knows she is pregnant, it is too late to take folic acid tablets to prevent neural tube defects. Since about half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, this puts a large number of infants at risk for these serious birth defects.
About Folic Acid Enrichment of Foods
In March of 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated the addition of folic acid to grain products produced in the country, which would begin in 1998.
Food producers complied, and now add folic acid to enriched bread flours, cornmeal, pasta, rice, and other grain products.
The program has increased intake of folic acid by 100 micrograms a day, according to statistics presented by Harvard School of Public Health, and reduced the number of children born with a neural tube defect by 25 percent to 50 percent. That is great news for people that tout the benefits of folic acid.
Despite these efforts, many women still do not consume enough folic acid, according to a new editorial published
Some people use the terms folic acid and folate interchangeably.
Many foods contain folate, including dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, beans and peas.
Unfortunately, American consumers do not take in enough of these folate-rich foods to gain enough of the vitamin to prevent birth defects. That is why folic acid supplements are so important.
The medical journal invited Laura E. Mitchell, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health to write the editorial.
JAMA Pediatrics published the editorial during Folic Acid Awareness Week and January's Birth Defects Prevention Month.
The editorial appeared in conjunction with a statement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) regarding supplementation of this important vitamin in the era of mandatory fortification.
Since 2009, USPSTF has recommended a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 mg (400 to 800 g) of folic acid to women planning to become pregnant or who are capable of becoming pregnant to reduce the risk of having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect.
“Since neural tube defects occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it is important for women to be taking the recommended amount of folic acid before they become pregnant.
Because approximately one-half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, the USPSTF recommendation holds for all reproductive-age women, whether or not they are planning a pregnancy, so that all pregnancies benefit from this preventive measure,” Mitchell said in a press release issued by UTHealth.
How Supplement Manufacturing Can Help
While the USPSTF recommendation on folic acid supplementation remains the same, authors of the current report considered new evidence obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) after the 1998 mandatory fortification of grain products began.
This evidence shows that nearly one-fourth of all women of reproductive age have folate levels too low to prevent neural birth defects. Unfortunately, women who forgo folic acid supplements are about three times more likely to have sub-optimal folate levels as compared with their female counterparts who do take these supplements.
This means mandatory folic acid fortification is not enough to prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
“Even in the era of mandatory folic acid fortification of the food supply, taking a daily prenatal supplement remains a critical strategy for women to make sure they are receiving enough folic acid,” Mitchell said.
While the USPSTF’s folic acid recommendations have been in place since 2009, the number of women taking a folic acid supplement remains low.
Fewer than half of women with intended pregnancies take a daily folic acid supplement before pregnancy.
To help decrease the percentage of women with inadequate folic acid intake, the FDA began allowing folic acid fortification of corn masa flour used in tortillas, tacos, tortilla chips and tamales.
This change will be especially beneficial to Hispanic women, who consume less of traditionally fortified foods and therefore have lower folate levels and higher risk
In her editorial, Mitchell suggests the use of wearable devices and smartphone tracker that provide a unique opportunity to develop and disseminate messages increasing folic acid supplementation in women of childbearing age.
These messages could inform women like Kristi of the importance of taking folic acid supplements to help them reduce the risk of neural tube defects in their babies. Nutraceutical manufacturers understand the growth of this trending supplement and are capitalizing on it.
Sources for Folic Acid Manufacturers USA: