Title folic acid

Folic acid is a B-vitamin that helps prevent birth defects. If a woman has enough folic acid in her diet, before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that ALL women planning or capable of pregnancy take a daily supplement containing 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid every day. 

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CDC folic acid poster


  • Fortified in breakfast cereals, bread, spaghetti and found naturally in beans, spinach, and orange juice.
  • Helps lower the risk of strokes and certain kinds of cancer.
  • Decreases the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord by up to 70%.
  • The easiest way to get your daily amount of folic acid is through a multivitamin.



Folic acid helps prevent major birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. These defects are called neural tube defects (NTD).
The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. Each year, these affect 2,300 live births in the United States*.
More than half of these cases could be prevented if women consumed enough folic acid before and during early pregnancy.
*estimates from NBDPN pooled data from birth years 2004-2006.


Everyone needs folic acid. It helps keep yourself healthy while looking and feeling your best. To prevent NTDs, women
need to get plenty of folic acid. It is especially important for women of Hispanic ethnicity and who have already had
a NTD-related pregnancy. Women more at risk for a NTD-related pregnancy need extra folic acid in their diet. Risk
factors for these types of pregnancies are women who are obese, taking medications or have maternal diabetes with
out of control blood sugar.

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It is important to start taking
400 mcg of folic acid because not all pregnancies are planned.

The easiest way to get the right amount of folic acid is with a daily multivitamin!

four women in a circle

Additional Folic Acid Resources «
Birth Defects Prevention Main Page  

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