Q&A: I didn't take prenatal vitamins. Is that OK?
I didn't start taking prenatal vitamins until after I found out I was pregnant. Will my baby be OK?
Since nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, there are probably many women in the same boat as you. The March of Dimes in addition to healthcare providers (for women of childbearing age) have long been trying to spread the word of how important taking prenatal vitamin and folic acid are prior to conceiving. Research has shown that taking folic acid can prevent neural tube defects (ones found in the spine, skull, and brain) by as much as 50 to 70 percent.
The Importance of Folic Acid
When the impact of folic acid on the reduction of neural tube defects was discovered this led to the fortification of many products (breads, pasta, and cereals). According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) this fortification led to a 25-percent decrease in neural tube defects. So, today many women who eat healthy diets rich in folic acid (including foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, or fortified cereals) ask why they need the supplement. The answer is that the synthetic form of folic acid is more effective for this type of protection, and pregnant women require twice the amount of folic acid (the RDA for pregnant women is 600 micrograms) that non-pregnant women require.
So what do you do now? Start by taking a good look at your diet and talk with your healthcare provider about the best nutritional plan and necessary follow-up for your pregnancy.