Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that helps make DNA and assist in the normal growth of cells, especially in infants and children. A deficiency in folic acid can lead to the following:
Low Birth Weight
Pregnant women with a folic acid deficiency are more likely to give birth prematurely, give birth to a child with abnormally low birth weight, or have a child with neural tube deficiencies. It is recommended that a 400micrograms folic acid supplement is taken daily or eating foods fortified with folic acid are consumed in order to help decrease the risk of having a child with serious birth defects.
Folic Acid Deficiency Anaemia
Folic acid deficiency anaemia occurs quite commonly in infants. This type of anaemia decreases red blood cell production. The reason Its more common in infants is due to the fact that infants require high amounts of Folic acid as it helps stimulate DNA replication and cellular growth. If an infant has a folic acid deficiency they may show signs of chronic fatigue, dyspnoea, weakness, glossitis, low body weight, fainting, irritability and jaundice, or yellowing of the skin plus many more symptoms.
Neural Tube Defects
Neural Tube Defects during baby’s first stages of life and pregnancy can be caused by low folic acid. Neural tube defects are classified as birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord, the most common conditions are spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida occurs when the developing foetus’ spinal column does not close completely, resulting in nerve damage and lower-extremity paralysis. In anencephaly, much of the brain fails to develop, resulting in stillbirth or death shortly after birth.
The above demonstrates the importance of seemingly unimportant vitamins. If in doubt of nutritional values of food, see your GP for advice, especially if you are pregnant or have recently had a baby and are breastfeeding.