My heart goes out to the parents of the unborn child with anencephaly, a neural tube defect, whose story Julia O’Malley wrote about in a recent article (“When birth means saying goodbye,” Nov. 2). I also appreciate the mother’s desire to educate others about the importance of folic acid for preventing neural tube defects, and want to share some more specific information for your readers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day to prevent neural tube defects. Most U.S. multivitamins contain at least this amount. According to the CDC, it is important for all women of childbearing age to consume folic acid daily because half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned and these birth defects occur very early in pregnancy (3-4 weeks after conception).
More information is available here: cdc.gov/features/folicacid/.
— Margaret Young,
Alaska Division of Public Health