Low Levels of Vitamin B12 May Increase Risk for Neural Tube Defects
Children born to women who have low blood levels of vitamin B12 shortly before and after conception may have an increased risk of a neural tube defect ... Women who consume little or no meat or animal based foods are the most likely group of women to have low B12 levels, along with women who have intestinal disorders that prevent them from absorbing sufficient amounts of B12.
Neural tube defects are a class of birth defects affecting the brain and spinal cord. One type, spina bifida, can cause partial paralysis. Another type, anencephaly, is a fatal defect in which the brain and skull are severely underdeveloped.
Researchers have known that taking another nutrient, folic acid, during the weeks before and after conception can greatly reduce a woman’s chances of having a child with a neural tube defect.
... "If women wait until they realize that they are pregnant before they start taking folic acid, it is usually too late," Dr. Mills said.
"Our results offer evidence that women who have adequate B12 levels before they become pregnant may further reduce the occurrence of this class of birth defects," Dr. Mills said.
Vitamin B12 is available in milk, meats, poultry, eggs, as well as fortified cereals and some other fortified foods ... Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and peas.
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