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DOHA ALL women of child-bearing age should take multi-vitamins with folic acid every day. This would promote the health of both mother and child, says Dr Elizabeth Ross, professor and head of Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Development at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

Ross was in Doha recently as one of the organisers for the Y[pounds sterling]International Conference on Spina Bifida: Genetic- Environmental Causes, Prevention and Treatment'.

Speaking to Qatar Tribune, she said even single women who may be years away from pregnancy, can actually do something right now to start preparing for a healthy child.

She said, oeThe best way to ensure that you have the proper amount of vitamins is to have a healthy diet, because vitamins that come from food are most readily absorbed and used well by the body. But with a hectic modern lifestyle, it can be difficult to make sure that you have all of the nutrition that one needs. So one multi-vitamin tablet a day is a good idea to ensure that you have what you need A[yen].

Having the right vitamin intake will not only benefit your health now, it will also reduce your risks of bearing a baby with certain diseases.

According to Shenela Lakhani, genetic counsellor at the Clinical and Metabolic Genetics at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), any woman capable of becoming pregnant, can have a baby with Spina Bifida, which is a type of disease affecting one in 1,000 live births worldwide.

In her presentation at the Spina Bifida International Conference in Doha, Lakhani said the single greatest factor causing neural tube defects (NTDs) including Spina Bifida, is vitamin deficiency.

Neural tube defects are severe abnormalities of the central nervous system that develop in babies during the first few weeks of pregnancy resulting in malformations of the spine, skull, and brain, which may lead to seizures, intellectual disability, or sight problems, paralysis and a variety of urological and neurological complications.

Some children also develop a curve in the spine, such as scoliosis.

Lakhani went on to say that neural tube defects are a leading cause of stillbirth, infant death and disability worldwide.

About three percent of the cases diagnosed with neural tube defects end up in spontaneous abortion, commonly known as miscarriage.

About 50 percent of the cases also result in spontaneous abortion past the first trimester.

Quoting general statistics, Lakhani also said 25 percent of neural tube defects lead to stillbirth.

The other 25 percent of babies with neural tube defects are born alive, but many will develop complications and disabilities after birth.

oeStudies have shown that there has been a decrease in incidence of neural tube defects by 70 percent in some populations due to folic acid intake. Women are advised to start taking folic acid supplements at least one month before conception, A[yen] she added.

Single women too need to take adequate folate intake. If not, they are at risk of developing common symptoms of folate deficiency including diarrhoea, confusion, forgetfulness, irritability, or other cognitive declines, depression, sore or swollen tongue, peptic or mouth ulcers, headaches, palpitations, behavioural disorders, macrocytic anaemia with weakness or shortness of breath, and nerve damage with weakness and limb numbness, studies have shown.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Oct 3, 2013
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