Taking folic acid supplements may help reduce premature birth risk

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Washington, May 12 (ANI): A new study has suggested that taking folic acid supplements for at least a year before conception may help reduce the risk of premature birth.

Babies born prematurely are less likely to survive than full-term babies and are more likely to have breathing difficulties and learning or developmental disabilities.

Currently, there are no effective methods of prevention or treatment of premature (preterm) birth, but previous studies have suggested that lower concentrations of folate (folic acid) are associated with shorter duration of pregnancy.

Radek Bukowski from the University of Texas Medical Branch, United States of America and colleagues therefore tested this idea, by analyzing data collected from a cohort of nearly 35,000 pregnant women.

They found that taking folate supplements for at least one year before conception was associated with a 70 percent reduction in spontaneous premature birth between 20 and 28 weeks, and a 50 percent reduction between 28 and 32 weeks, as compared to the rate of preterm birth when mothers did not take additional folate supplementation.

Folate supplementation for less than a year before conception was not linked to a reduction in the risk of premature birth in this study, and folate supplementation was not associated with any other complications of pregnancy.

The study is published in this week's PLoS Medicine. (ANI)

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