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Folic acid may lower risk of heart defects

May 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study says taking folic acid in early pregnancy may lower the risk of serious heart defects.Researchers looked at more than a million babies born in Quebec, Canada, after the country required all grain products be fortified with folic acid. Since the law went into effect more than a decade ago, the number of babies born with severe heart defects dropped six percent.

Researchers say while it may not seem like a large decline, treatment of heart defects is complex and carries a high risk of death, so even a small reduction is important.

This was the first large study to look at folic acid and heart defects.

Researchers say there could be other factors that led to the drop, but it still shows a strong connection between folic acid and serious heart defects.

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth defect. Previous research has shown folic acid reduces the risk of spina bifida and related birth defects.

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