“Having a baby changes everything.” Most parents can relate to this once popular Johnson and Johnson montage; however, no one quite understands the changes that take place as much as mothers. During pregnancy, women undergo both physical and cognitive changes. Elevated prolactin levels promote lactation and memory disturbances do in fact occur . To facilitate these changes while promoting the growth and development of infants, expecting mothers’ actions are strictly monitored. Women are expected to visit the doctor frequently and their diets are drastically altered. One dietary change that is vital for fetal maturation is the incorporation of folic acid supplements.
Folic acid is a vitamin that promotes healthy nervous system development. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or might become pregnant consume 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. Forgoing this recommendation can result in serious birth defects including spina bifida and anencephaly which can increase infant mortality . Folic acid naturally occurs in various fruits and vegetables, and in the United States, many cereal and bread products are fortified with folic acid. Although we practice measures to prevent neural tube defects many populations are still at risk particularly Hispanic women . Findings such as these highlight the importance of increased efforts to decrease NTDs in populations of greater need.