WASHINGTON - "Women who take folic acid supplements for at least a year before becoming pregnant can greatly reduce their risk of delivering a baby prematurely, researchers said on Thursday.
Folic acid, a B vitamin, already is known to prevent major birth defects that involve a baby's brain or spine. This study shows it may provide another benefit — cutting down on premature births in which babies have less time to develop in the womb and are more likely to experience serious medical problems.
The study tracked about 35,000 pregnant women between 1999 and 2002 who disclosed their folic acid intake.
It found that women who took folic acid supplements for at least a year before pregnancy cut their chances for very early pre-term births — 20 to 28 weeks into the pregnancy — by 70 percent compared to other women."
Copyright 2008 Reuters.