Thousands of premature births could be prevented if the mothers took folic acid for at least a year before getting pregnant, doctors have found.
A major study has shown that extra supplies of the B vitamin cut the risk of premature babies by 50 to 70 per cent.
Doctors are now advising young women to add folic acid supplements to their daily diet - to get into the habit of taking it before they start planning a family.
Those in the UK hoping to become pregnant are already advised to take a 0.4mg supplement of folic acid every day after stopping contraception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Taking folic acid at this dose helps prevent severe brain and spinal birth defects.
But the latest study backed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows long spells of taking folic acid could reduce premature birth rates, including those born very early who are most at risk of dying or suffering long-term disabilities.
Source - Daily Mail