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X Fact
November 19, 2020
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Prenatal Vitamins - the House that Folate Built

Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) are considered to be one of the commonest congenital birth defects. These are caused by partial or complete failure of the fetal neural tube to close at or around day 28 of gestation and this results in different malformations that range from spina bifida to anencephaly. Multiple studies have demonstrated that ensuring adequate intake of folate before conception and for the first four weeks is important in reducing the incidence of NTDs by up to 50%, and this is the reason that prenatal vitamins all contain folic acid or folate.

Since the introduction of food fortification with folic acid, the incidence of NTDs has decreased significantly, but has not been eliminated in the countries that fortify. Researches performed a meta-analysis of 32 studies involving 1,890 mothers who gave birth to babies with NTD malformations to understand whether they could determine if there was a relationship between markers of Single Carbon metabolism and NTD.

What they found was that mothers who had low folate and vitamin B12 levels had a significantly higher risk delivering a child with an NTDs, when measured early in pregnancy and recommend that folate and B12 be given in the peri-conception period to be a more effective preventative measure to reduce the incidence of this very distressing birth defect, even further.

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Who Wrote This X Fact
Jonathan Bortz MD
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Jonathan’s background as a practicing diabetes specialist for 15 years and 17-year career developing nutritional prescriptive products for the pharmaceutical industry has contributed to his ability to understand nutrients, how they work and why they are important.

Over the years he has acquired broad and in-depth knowledge in minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients, but has special expertise in Vitamin B12 and choline metabolism. He is often asked to speak at national and international venues to articulate why B12, folate and choline are so important to gene function, brain development, liver and cardiovascular health. He applies pharmaceutical standards to nutrient science and has developed a unique ability to translate complicated concepts into simple promotional messages that resonate with practitioners and consumers. He has developed dozens of innovative nutritional products, of which many are category leaders in the US. Jonathan obtained his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa and did his fellowship in Endocrinology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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