Folic Acid and Birth Defects

Folic acid is a B vitamin that every person needs to stay healthy. Women who could possibly get pregnant should take extra folic acid every day-even if they’re not planning to get pregnant. Everyone’s body uses folic acid to keep cells functioning and growing and to make healthy genes. For women who are having periods, it is extremely important to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day without fail. Why? Because folic acid is the very best way to prevent a group of serious birth defects called neural tube defects (NTDs) that severely harm a baby’s brain and spine while they’re developing. A baby with a NTD may be born with an open spine that never closes on its own. Also called spina bifida, this can cause severe life-long disability.

To learn more, watch this video about folic acid and birth defects. 

Open Video Transcript