Folate deficiency and folic acid supplementation
Diet, particularly vitamin deficiency, is associated with the risk of birth defects. The aim of this review paper is to show the characteristics of common and severe neural-tube defects together with congenital heart defects (CHD) as vitamin deficiencies play a role in their origin.
The findings of the Hungarian intervention (randomized double-blind and cohort controlled) trials indicated that periconceptional folic acid (FA)-containing multivitamin supplementation prevented the major proportion (about 90%) of neural-tube defects (NTD) as well as a certain proportion (about 40%) of congenital heart defects. Finally the benefits and drawbacks of three main practical applications of folic acid/multivitamin treatment such as (i) dietary intake; (ii) periconceptional supplementation; and (iii) flour fortification are discussed. The conclusion arrived at is indeed confirmation of Benjamin Franklin’s statement: “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of care”.
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