Folic Acid May Help Prevent Premature Birth

Supplement could cut risk by 70%; fortifying flour, bread advocated
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2008 1:44 PM CST
Taking folic acid supplements may cut the risk of premature birth by 70%, a new study shows.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Taking folic acid supplements could cut the risk of premature birth by 70%, a study has found, giving women one more reason to seek out the synthetic B9 vitamin. Since one in three premature babies dies, the findings could save thousands of lives. The catch is that the acid should be taken a year ahead of conception, the Guardian reports.

Doctors have long recommended folic acid to would-be mothers to reduce the risk of neural-tube defects, but supplements only work for planned pregnancies. To get around the problem, the US has fortified all bread and flour with the vitamin since 1998, and these findings should bolster advocates trying to pass similar measures in the UK and elsewhere. (Read more pregnancy stories.)