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Folic Acid Disorder

The Benefits of Folic Acid During Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, getting a full dose of daily vitamins and minerals is important to your health and the health of your baby. Arguably, the most important of these vitamins is folic acid, or folate.

Folic acid is a commonly found vitamin in leafy vegetables and many fortified foods, including breakfast cereals and breads. It has proven abilities to prevent folic acid disorders, such as brain injury and spinal disorders in babies, especially when taken before conception and during early pregnancy. Additionally, studies show that folic acid decreases the likelihood of a cleft lip and heart defects, and increases DNA production.

Many women are unaware of this aspect of prenatal care and do not get enough folic acid to support the healthy development of their fetus. Without enough folic acid, the baby can experience serious birth defects including Neural Tube Disorder (NTD) (such as spina bifida) and may cause premature birth or a miscarriage.

Folic Acid Deficiency Symptoms

Unfortunately, there are few tell-tale signs that a fetus is lacking the folic acid needed for normal fetal development. Often the deficiency is recognized after it is too late. However, there are common signs of an NTD caused by a folic acid deficiency. The signs and symptoms include:

  • An opening in the baby's back exposing the spine and spinal cord
  • Paralysis below the point of the defect
  • Lack of bladder control and bowel function
  • Accumulation of fluid in the brain
  • Partially formed brain and spinal cord

It is extremely important for women to take folic acid supplements in order to prevent folic acid disorders from occurring.

Caring for a Child With a Folic Acid Deficiency Disorder

Was your child born with spina bifida, the most common folic acid disorder? The level of disability your child will experience depends upon where on the spine the defect occurred. Some children will learn to walk with assistance, others will need a wheelchair, and sadly, some of them are stillborn or do not live long following the delivery. The good news is that your child will most likely have normal mental development, even if he or she is physically handicapped.

Your baby will probably spend a lot of time in clinics and hospitals during the first part of his or her life. This is to ensure your son or daughter is receiving proper therapy and is developing as expected for the seriousness of the condition. Although costly, attending regular check-ups with your physician may make the difference between your child walking and spending the rest of his or her life in a wheelchair.

You should also note that children with spina bifida have a higher rate of latex allergies. You should make your child's doctor and dentist aware of this fact in order to prevent serious health complications during procedures.

When your child reaches preschool age, he or she may be eligible for early intervention services, such as Head Start programs. These services can help prepare your child for life in the classroom with a disability. Further education services may be available through your state as your child ages. Check with your state's education department for specific services and benefits offered that could help your child.

What is most important to know in caring for a child with a folic acid disorder, such as spina bifida, is that the child will face many of the same challenges that all kids with disabilities face. Yet, with extra medical attention, patience and understanding, your child should live a full and normal life. Depending on the severity of the injury, he or she will be able to go to school, attend college, and work in a career suited to his or her interests. Many children with folic acid disorders live similar lives to children without the disorders, with little thought to their disability slowing them down.

Preventing Folic Acid Disorders

According to the March of Dimes, 70 percent of all instances of NTD and other folic acid deficiency problems could be prevented with the proper intake of folic acid in the early months of pregnancy. Obstetricians/gynecologists (OBGYNs) should be informing their patients of the benefits of this vitamin, and asking at regular appointments whether a mother is consuming enough milligrams to support healthy development. Failure to provide this information may be a breach of standard of care and the basis of a viable legal claim.

The Birth Injury Team is a subsidiary of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., made up of experienced attorneys and medical professionals. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling birth injury cases. We are dedicated to helping parents understand their child's condition and guiding them through the process of securing the care and support they need. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across the United States.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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