Sexually Active Teens Miss Chance to Prevent Spina Bifida
WebMD News Archive
"[Teen] awareness programs are needed to increase knowledge and
prevention of spina bifida and neural tube defects," says Chacko. Since
teens often act spontaneously and many of these pregnancies are unplanned,
Chacko says a multivitamin containing folic acid is the most reliable way to
guarantee that the mother will have enough folates in her body to prevent
problems. Some 4,000 babies in the U.S. are born each year with spina bifida,
and while treatment has improved, they will all probably suffer a lifetime with
severe physical and learning disabilities.
Chacko says she's doing a three-month follow-up on the women to see if
they're still taking the vitamins provided as part of the study. Not all of the
problem is motivation, however. In many cases, paying for vitamins or proper
foods is an issue.
- If they do not get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day before
and during their pregnancy, women face higher risks of having a baby with
neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Experts recommend that women who are
sexually active during their childbearing years take enough folic acid every
day, in case they become pregnant.
- In a recent report, researchers say not enough young women are getting this
message. After surveying about 200 teen-age clients of reproductive clinics in
Houston, they found only 12% of the respondents took a daily multivitamin with
the recommended amount of folic acid. And few regularly ate folate-rich foods
such as spinach and fortified cereals.
- The ability to buy these types of foods and supplements may contribute to
how many women consume enough folic acid.