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Category: General Health
The number of babies born with severe congenital heart defects with has dropped significantly in Quebec since Canada introduced mandatory fortification of grain produces with folic acid more than a decade ago, according to researchers from McGill University.
Their study, which appeared in the British Medical Journal, found a 6 percent annual decline in cases of severe congenital heart defects in the province after 1998, prompting the researchers to conclude the reduction is not by chance, but due to the introduction of more folic acid into the diet of pregnant women. Previous studies have shown folic acid reduces the prevalence of some other birth defects.
Raluca Ionescu-Ittu, lead author on the paper, acknowledged in a Toronto Star article that the link was not proven, since they did not perform folic acid tests on the mothers during pregnancy. Determining whether adequate folic acid levels in pregnant women do indeed prevent some cases of congenital heart defects and what blood levels of folic acid are required will be a future area of research.
Cardiac abnormalities involve expensive, complex surgeries and treatments, so if taking supplements and testing folic acid levels can help, the health benefits would be huge.
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