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Mom's To Be - Understanding Folic Acid. By. Dr. Sunita Maheshwari, Pediatric Cardiologist.

Sunday, May 11, 2008
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... You are heartbroken and wonder if the fault lies with you. Mostly it does not. It's just one of those things that can happen in any family.

However for the next pregnancy and if you have never been pregnant and are reading this.BEFORE getting pregnant. take one tablet of Folvite per day 3 months before you actually become pregnant. And if you're wondering why.

Folic acid is a naturally occurring B vitamin that helps a baby's neural tube-the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord-develop properly. If normal development does not occur spina bifida and other anomalies can result.

Several studies suggest that women who do not consume enough of the B vitamin folic acid before and during the early weeks of pregnancy are also at increased risk of having a baby with a heart defect.

Folic acid, a B vitamin, helps prevent birth defects of the heart, brain and spinal cord when taken very early in pregnancy. It is available in most multivitamins, as a folic acid-only supplement and in some foods.

Take a multivitamin with folic acid every day before pregnancy and during early pregnancy, as part of a healthy diet.
Taking Folvite 400 mcg or more daily may prevent defects in your upcoming baby

Eat a healthy diet that includes foods that contain folate, the natural form of the vitamin.

Folic acid is found in the following foods:
•    Fortified breakfast cereals
•    Lentils i.e. Dals
•    Asparagus
•    Spinach
•    Peanuts
•    Orange juice
•    Enriched breads and pasta
•    Romaine lettuce
•    Broccoli

In recent years, studies have shown that folic acid is very important for everyone later in life in maintaining health. It has long been known that folic acid plays an important role in the production of normal red blood cells. More recent studies suggest that folic acid may help prevent heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, especially colon cancer. This suggests that you, me and everybody will benefit from taking folic acid.

Neural tube defects are defects of the spinal cord and brain, the most common being spina bifida

Heart defects includes holes, absence of the normal 4 chambers of the heart and a variety of simple to complex problems. This can cause blue babies, heart failure etc.


Dr Sunita Maheshwari
Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist and HOD
Narayana Hrudayalaya

Telerad RxDx



User Comments

02 May, 2014 | Lymo | Reply

Lymo Dear Madam,
I am around 31 yrs of age, married since 3 yrs, and being trying for a child since few months, doctor has prescribed me to take folvite tablet 5mg daily.. Will this tablet help me??

10 August, 2012 | Santiago | Reply

Santiago I think this is a great idea. Our third child has SB and my wife always did every thing she was sopupsed to with her prenatal care, including taking her folic acid. I am a doctor an have likewise been frustrated with my colleagues who ask the same question, well didn't your wife take folic acid? . The truth is that it is a polygenic syndrome, that we don't really understand. Medical school teaches little else besides the folic acid doctrine. There's nothing wrong with this from a public health stand point, but serves little to no purpose for the individual family affected by SB.It's frustrating that these brave mothers, who choose to bring these children into the world rather than abort them, are then made to feel ashamed and guilty as if they did something wrong. I applaud all these moms, folic acid aside. These children truly are a blessing and their parents are special people.+1

15 May, 2011 | Rajesh.K | Reply

Rajesh.K Please tell me in which hospital can I consult Dr.Sunita Maheswari for my sons review.Recently I came to know that she is not coming to Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore. Is it true?

15 May, 2011 | Mrinal Jhangiani | Reply

Mrinal Jhangiani Dear Mr. Rajesh,
Dr. Sunita can be reached at RxDx Teleradiology in Bangalore
We hope your nephew feels better.
Best wishes,
Mrinal Jhangiani

Below is Dr. Maheshwari's information -

Dr Sunita Maheshwari
Telerad Tele # 40187588

Acad Prof, Narayana Hrudayalaya
258a, Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bommasandra Industrial Area, Bangalore, 560058
Phone: +91-80-27835000
Senior Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist

'Heart Strings', a People4people initiative
RXDX-Whitefield's premier 24 hour multispeciality clinic

03 January, 2011 | Geetha C S | Reply

Geetha C S Hi Sunitha,
My sister is conceived second time,she is 6 months pregnant,She went under scanning,they hav found that there is a hole in foetus heart.Kindly update us as soon as possible with the arising problems to foetus becoz of this.Side effects to mom is she under goes abortion.Kindly suggest us what should be done with this.

03 January, 2011 | Support | Reply

Support Please contact Dr Sunita Maheshwari at the following numbers at -
Telerad RxDx. Tel: +91-80-41226788, 41226799

or at

258a, Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bommasandra Industrial Area, Bangalore, 560058
Phone: +91-80-27835000

16 December, 2010 | Sonicview 360 Premier Mini PVR | Reply

Sonicview 360 Premier Mini PVR Awesome article, thanks for sharing this to us.

19 November, 2010 | Janani Ram | Reply

Janani Ram I have a son who is going to be 2 yrs in a few months. I do not take any multi vitamin tablet everyday. Is it a problem or should i have one tablet of multi vitamin and minerals everyday?

04 October, 2010 | Shwetha Venkatesh | Reply

Shwetha Venkatesh Though this article mentions the foods that are rich in folic acid, it does not say how much of it we have to include in our daily diet. Does consuming them daily means no supplement necessary?

04 October, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Shwetha, as Dr Sunitha has rightly said pregnancy increases a woman's requirement for dietary nutrition including folic acid (folate), iron and calcium.Around 400 mgs or 0.4 g of folate or folic acid is required through a varied diet, fortified foods and supplements to prevent these birth defects. Most often only 100-200 mgs is consumed by diet.
In India there are 25000 to 30000 new cases with neural tube defects such as spina bifida, a year, or 5-7 cases per 1000 births. (US -2,500/year)
Its best to start with supplements when a person decides she wants to conceive, as Folic acid is required to make new cells, and if folic acid is deficient in the first month of pregnancy, she has an increased risk of major birth defects (neural tube defects or NTDs) in her baby’s brain and spine. Invariably many women in India realise they are pregnant only after 4-6 weeks, so there is a great likelihood that in the vital 4 weeks of the 1st trimester she would be folic acid deficient The most common neural tube defect is spina bifida which can lead to incontinence, paralysis, and even mental retardation.
Severe folate deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia, a condition which typically occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy. If megaloblastic anemia does occur, the mother’s heart, liver and spleen may become enlarged and may threaten the life of the fetus.
However, as mentioned earlier, a prenatal supplement does not replace the need for a healthy diet (plenty green, leafy vegetables, most berries, nuts, beans, citrus fruits etc)

11 June, 2010 | Kanika Jain | Reply

Kanika Jain Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients during pregnancy. When a woman is planning to conceive\has conceived, it should be made sure that she is having a healthy balanced diet with special emphasis on folic acid.

Kanika Jain

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