Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defects

Walter Willett and Elizabeth Lenart

in Nutritional Epidemiology

Third edition

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199754038
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979448 | DOI:

Series: Monographs in Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defects

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Neural tube defects (NTDs) remain one of the most common major congenital abnormalities in the United States and many other countries. They result from failure of the embryonic neural tube to close completely at about the 28th day of pregnancy and are manifested as two main clinical abnormalities, anencephaly and spina bifida. This chapter reviews studies on the relation of folic acid intake to the risk of NTDs, Evidence from a wide variety of sources, including case-control and cohort studies and randomized trials, has shown that use of multiple vitamins early in pregnancy can reduce the risk of NTDs by more than half, and that the active factor in these supplements is primarily or entirely folic acid. These benefits have been confirmed in population fortification programs in multiple countries.

Keywords: congenital abnormalities; folic acid intake; neural tube defects

Chapter.  11426 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Statistics and Methodology

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