ABUJA – Women of child bearing age were on Wednesday advised to take folic acid because it helps to prevent major birth defects which could occur some days after conception.
Dr Benjamin Uchegbu, a General Physician at the Minna General Hospital, Niger State, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the defect would result to ‘spina bifida’.
“It is important in women of child-bearing age because it helps to prevent major birth defects which can occur 23 to 27 days after conception (closure of neural tube).
“This will result in spina bifida (poor or defective closure of the covering of spinal cord and nerves) which will result in disabilities in life.
“It can also cause anencephaly (absence of brain tissues) which is not compatible with life,’’ Uchegbu said.
According to him, most times before the women would realise they are pregnant and commence folic acid, the defects would have occurred.
Uchegbu advises that early build up of folic acid was very important before pregnancy occurs.
The doctor said the deficiency of folic acid could also cause anaemia especially with monthly blood losses, that is menstrual blood loss.
He said, “because of poor dietary intake, the women need to build up both before during and after child bearing.
Uchegbu described folic acid as water soluble vitamin B which occurs naturally as folate in green leafy vegetables.
He said the folate is easily denatured or lost during cooking, excessive washing or poor preservation of foods.
“Folate is important in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis that is cell metabolism,’’ Uchegbu said. (NAN)