This subject is near and dear to my heart. Some of you may know that I was born with spinal bifida. Others of you may not. I have been blessed to live a fairly unrestricted life. I have few physical limitations, few neurological symptoms, and full mobility. Others living with spinal bifida are not so unrestricted.
Spina bifida, or open spine, is a congenital neural tube defect in which a part of the tube (in the spine and backbone) does not close or develop. The neural tube typically closes in the first 28 days of the pregnancy, often before the mother knows she is pregnant.
After birth, the child must have surgery to repair the defect (as much as possible). My first surgery was at 6 days old. Depending on lasting effects, the child may have to undergo additional surgeries, tests, and learn to deal with additional problems that may stem from the defect (bladder/bowel problems, mobility issues, learning disabilities, etc.)
Research shows that folic acid significantly reduces the chance of a child being born with spinal bifida. Folic acid is a B-type vitamin that is essential for a variety of body functions. You absorb some folic acid from your diet, but you should take a supplement to ensure you get the amount your body needs to run properly.
If you are of child bearing age, you should take 400 mcg of folic acid daily. If you have spinal bifidia or have a child with spinal bifidia, you should take 4000 mcg of folic acid daily.
Most prenatal vitamins have 400 mcg of folic acid. Before purchasing, verify that the required amount is included. If not, purchase a folic acid supplement.