Hispanic/Latino women at higher risk for having babies born with birth defects

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According to the CDC, “each year in United States approximately 3,000 pregnancies are affected by serious defects of the spine and brain called neural tube defects (NTDs). Hispanic women have a 30-40 percent higher risk of having babies with these birth defects. “

One of the easiest ways to prevent these birth defects is by taking folic acid.  Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that everyone needs to take in order to have optimum cellular health and growth.   

Who should take folic acid?

All people need folic acid. However, folic acid is very important for women who are between 15 and 45 years of age, even if they are not currently trying to get pregnant.  According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the current recommendation is for  pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms of folic acid daily from all sources.  However, Dr. Yvette Guitterez-Schieffer, ADC OB/Gyn, recommends 1000 micrograms a day for pregnant patients and those trying to get pregnant.   Dr. Gutierrez-Schieffer also recommends that those women with a family history of neural tube defects should take 2-4 mgs a day.

Why is folic acid important?

Folic acid when taken before and during early pregnancy has been found to decrease birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs).  These neural tube defects include Spina Bifida and Anencephaly.  

Where can you find folic acid?

It may be hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from food alone.  There are two easy ways to ensure you get enough folic acid in your daily diet.  

  • First is by taking either a multivitamin, or a prenatal vitamin, that has at least 800 micrograms of folic acid.  
  • Secondly, most breakfast cereals in the United States are fortified with 100% of the daily allowance of folic acid.  

Are there any natural ways to get folic acid?

There are many foods that have folate in them, however it can be hard to get the necessary amount of folic acid from food alone. So even if you eat foods that have folic acid in them, take your multivitamin each day, too.

Food sources for folate can be found in:

  • Leafy green vegetables like spinach, collard greens and romaine lettuce
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Citrus fruit, like oranges and grapefruit

Are there other benefits from taking folic acid?

Since folic acid is a key nutrient in cell health it’s important for everyone to get at least 400 mcg per day.  Folic acid has been shown to help with heart health as well as help those who may suffer from anemia.  


American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention