Facilitators of Change Nutrition/Behavior Counseling


POSTPARTUM DISCUSSION SESSION PP-2



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POSTPARTUM DISCUSSION SESSION PP-2
POSTPARTUM NUTRITION NEEDS AND

THE IMPORTANCE OF FOLIC ACID

Study Guide

POSTPARTUM DISCUSSION SESSION: PP-2

BACKGROUND INFORMATION


What Is Folic Acid and Why Is It Important?

Folic Acid is a B vitamin necessary for DNA production and cell division. It is known to help prevent certain birth defects, known as neural tube defects (NTDs). Spina bifida and anencephaly are the two most common types of NTDs.

Folic acid is sometimes called Folate. Technically, folic acid refers to the synthetic form of the vitamin and folate refers to the form found naturally in food. Folic acid has greater bioavailability.

Folic acid also assists blood cell production –important during normal health as well as in pregnancy to avoid anemia, and it may help with normal placental function and fetal growth. Recently, the contribution which folic acid makes towards health maintenance has been recognized in research demonstrating a possible role in preventing heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that all women of reproductive age consume 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid daily, in addition to eating a healthy diet.

The recommendation is for all women of childbearing age because:



  • NTDs usually occur in the baby before the mother even knows she is pregnant.

  • Many pregnancies are unplanned.

  • It is difficult to get adequate folic acid from diet alone.




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