How can low folic acid levels affect my baby if I am pregnant?

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
Some Americans, including a fair number of women of childbearing age, don't get enough of folic acid. That's worrisome because insufficient levels just before and during the early stages of pregnancy increase the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect -- a serious malformation of the spine, skull, or brain.  Because this can occur early in pregnancy, when many women do not yet know that they are pregnant, it is recommended that women who might become pregnant take a folate supplement or prenatal vitamin.

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