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Effects of Folic Acid Deficiency on Prenatal Development

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Effects of Folic Acid Deficiency on Prenatal Development

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  • November 2009
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Pregnancy can be exciting and joyful, particularly when it is planned and welcomed. At the same time, pregnancy can arouse anxiety about caring for the baby properly and providing for the growing child. The expectant mother usually experiences numerous discomforts. She may have frequent nausea, heartburn, insomnia, shortness of breath, painful swelling of the breasts, fatigue, as well as a host of other symptoms throughout her pregnancy. Many of the symptoms caused by pregnancy cannot be avoided. Some conditions, that a child may inherit during development, have little if nothing to do with the mother’s actions before, during, and after conception. Conditions such as down syndrome and sickle cell anemia, may not be able to be prevented by the woman or medical advances during fetal development. However, sufficient nutritional intake by a woman before, during, and after conception will greatly decrease certain disorders an unborn child may obtain. Essential vitamins are necessary for human development in every stage of life. However, during fetal development a pregnant woman’s vitamin intake may mean life or death to her unborn child. A particular nutrient vital to fetal development is Folic acid, which is also known as folacin, or folate. This nutrient is essential for the prevention of anemia, since it is used to make the extra blood a woman’s body needs during pregnancy. Folic acid deficiency anemia is characterized by red blood cells that are larger than normal when referring to this type of anemia. The red blood cells are also deformed, and both their rate of production and their lifespan are diminished (Charlish and Holt 65). Folic acid anemia occurs most often in infants, adolescents, alcoholics, the elderly, pregnant and lactating females, and in those with malignant or intestinal diseases (66). In most cases when an infant develops this deficiency it is due to the mother’s modest intake of the nutrient during fetal development (67). Having an adequate...