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B12 deficiency linked to risk of birth defects

New study reinforces the link between maternal nutritional deficiency and risk of neural tube birth defects.
Women deficient in vitamin B12 both before and during pregnancy are at greater risk of giving birth to a child with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, research has found.

A new study from the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that expectant mothers with low levels of B12 are five times more likely to have a baby with a birth defect.

Commenting on the findings, senior researcher Dr James Mills told The Windsor Star: "Nobody should get pregnant with low vitamin B12 levels. Women who are on diets that exclude animal products should check with their physician before they get pregnant."

He added that the developmental processes involved in these neural tube birth defects occur in the first four weeks of pregnancy.

According to the report, vitamin B12 intake during pregnancy is linked to the importance of prenatal folic acid supplementation.

Foods rich in vitamin B12 include meat, fish, eggs and dairy produce.

Experts recommend that women take folic acid supplementation prior to conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to reduce risk of neural tube defects.

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