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Category: General Health
Women who take folic acid supplements for at least a year before conception could lower their risk of premature births, according to new research from the University of Texas Medical Branch.
In a study of 35,000 women, those who took the supplements for at least a year before trying to become pregnant were less likely to give birth prematurely, 70 percent less likely between 20 and 28 weeks and 50 percent less likely between 28 and 32 weeks, than those who didn't take supplements. The effect was far less noticeable if the supplements were taken for less than a year beforehand.
The study was inspired partially by previous data that showed that low concentrations of folate in the blood are associated with shorter pregnancy.
The study joins a number of studies providing evidence that folate levels are important to pregnancy and healthy development of the child. Folate blood tests are readily available.
Because this study was an analysis of a Down's syndrome screening study, exact measures of the mothers' folate levels was not available, so it isn't possible to determine whether there is an optimal folate blood level for pregnancy at this time.
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