Excess folic acid during pregnancy may create complications; vitamin D likely to reduce risk of high blood pressure in newborns

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Excess folic acid during pregnancy may create complications; vitamin D likely to reduce risk of high blood pressure in newborns
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The results of the study showed that the babies of the mice that received the highest amount of folic acid had abnormal brain changes, similar to that seen in the mice with folic acid deficiency.

It is important to take good care of your health during all phases of life but it gets even more essential when you’re creating another life. During pregnancy, your immune system needs to be in the best possible shape so it can fight off any and all microorganisms that may harm you or your unborn child. You may also have to increase your nutritional intake during pregnancy as it is required for the development of your baby. But these vitamins and minerals must be taken in a precise amount as inadequate or excess amounts can harm the unborn child.

Excess folic acid consumption can hamper the brain development of the embryo

Out of all the important nutrients that are required during pregnancy, folic acid is one of the most commonly prescribed vitamins.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 (folate) and is extremely important for maintaining the health of the unborn. Studies have shown that consumption of folic acid during pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida (improper formation of the spine), in the newborn and also prevents the development of autism and other mental disorders.

During pregnancy, the recommended dose of folic acid is 400-800 micrograms every day. Women who have a history of giving birth to a child with neural tube defects or those who have epilepsy are prescribed much higher doses of folic acid.

However, according to the study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex on 30 September 2020, excess intake of folic acid may harm the brain of the unborn child. The scientists conducted a study on a group of mice who were divided into three groups; one group got a normal amount of folic acid, the other got 10 times the normal amount and the third one was not given folic acid at all.

The results of the study showed that the babies of the mice that received the highest amount of folic acid had abnormal brain changes, similar to that seen in the mice with folic acid deficiency.

The scientists concluded that very high amounts of folic acid can be harmful to the brain development of the fetus. Doctors must carefully evaluate the amount of folic acid that is being prescribed to women during pregnancy to avoid any complications.

Vitamin D may protect the newborn from hypertension

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication where women have high blood pressure, which can lead to strokes and organ failure. Preeclampsia is one of the major causes of death in pregnant women and can also result in stillbirth or premature delivery.

It has also been observed that children born to mothers with preeclampsia are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure later in life.

However, a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open on 5 October 2020 found that high levels of vitamin D in the body of preeclamptic pregnant women can protect their child from developing high blood pressure.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study on 754 mother-child pairs in Massachusetts and analysed their data from 1998 to 2018. The information included data regarding the presence of preeclampsia during pregnancy, the tests conducted on the blood samples collected from the umbilical cord during birth and the blood pressure of the children from age three to 18.

The initial results of the study showed that children born to preeclamptic mothers had higher systolic blood pressure compared to children of non-preeclamptic mothers. The study further showed that children with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood (derived from their umbilical cord during birth) showed high blood pressure.

The scientists concluded that preeclamptic pregnant women must increase their intake of vitamin D with the help of dietary supplements to reduce the risk of hypertension in their children.

For more information, read our article on Vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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