Folic Acid and Birth Defect Prevention

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What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a B vitamin. When you take folic acid before and early in pregnancy, it dramatically lowers the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs).

Why should I take folic acid?

If you are of childbearing age and could possibly become pregnant, you should take folic acid. These birth defects occur very early in pregnancy, often before you know that you’re pregnant.

How can I make sure I’m getting the right amount of folic acid?

If you could become pregnant, you should take 4mg of folic acid every day to maximize the benefits.

Folic acid can be found in many types of foods such as green leafy vegetables, cereals, pasta, bread, beans, and orange juice. But it’s very difficult to get enough through diet alone! That’s why we recommend taking a daily multivitamin or prenatal vitamin, and additional folic acid supplements.

Talk to your doctor to learn more!

Does it really make a difference?


In 1991, South Carolina had a higher rate of NTDs than any other area in the country. Because more women are taking folic acid now, the rate has declined by a staggering 60%! This means that 70 babies are born healthy across our state each year who, 30 years ago, would have been born with one of these very serious and sometimes life-threatening birth defects.

How can I learn more?

For more information or to schedule a presentation about folic acid for your group, contact Jane Dean, RN at [email protected] or 1-800-676-6332.

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Folate brochure
Folate menus – English

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