Pediatricians will tell you how important it is for expectant mothers to take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time when it's essential for mothers and their developing babies have access to all the vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients their bodies require.
Among the most important of these essential nutrients is folic acid, sometimes also referred to as folate, or vitamin B9. It is a standard component of nearly all high quality, prenatal multivitamins. Folic acid has been associated with proper neurological development during gestation and early infancy. It's also been known sideline other potential health risks, such as stroke and prostate cancer, later in life.
The Importance of Folic Acid During Pregnancy
There is little dispute among medical experts regarding the overall importance of folic acid. New findings presented by research scientists working with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, in Oslo, suggest the role it plays during pre and postnatal brain development may be even more important, and specific, than previously realized .
Between 1999 and 2010, the researchers collected and analyzed data on a total of 38,954 Norwegian children (18,998 girls, 19,956 boys) and their mothers in order to assess what effect, if any, prenatal folic acid supplementation had on language acquisition by age three.
When they compared the instances of severely delayed language development among children whose mothers supplemented with prenatal vitamins which contained folic acid with those who took prenatal vitamins which did not, as well as those children whose mothers did not use any form of prenatal vitamin whatsoever, the researchers were able to show a marked link between the use of folic acid enriched vitamins and decreased risk of language delay.
Other Sources of Folic Acid
Getting enough folic acid from diet alone can be difficult. There are a handful of foods with folic acid, including liver and egg yolks, plus many vegetarian-friendly options, such as leafy green vegetables, peas, beans, and other legumes, and brewer's yeast.
The most effective method for expectant mothers to ensure they get their recommended daily allotment of folic acid is still a good prenatal multivitamin supplement. Unfortunately, selecting the right prenatal vitamin can be a difficult task, especially for women who prefer to use natural organic vitamins.
- Christine Roth MSc ClinPsyD, Per Magnus MD PhD, Synnve Schjølberg MSc ClinPsyD, Camilla Stoltenberg MD PhD, Pål Surén MD MPH, Ian W. McKeague PhD, George Davey Smith MD DSc, Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud MD PhD, Ezra Susser MD DrPH. Folic Acid supplements in pregnancy and severe language delay in children. JAMA. 2011;306(14):1566-1573. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1433.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.