New recommendations for folic acid supplementation to prevent neural tube defects

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  • The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women of reproductive age take a daily folic acid supplement to reduce risks for neural tube defects.

Why this matters

  • Neural tube defects are defects of the brain and spine affecting 6.5 cases per 10,000 live births.
  • Most neural tube defects occur spontaneously, but risk factors include a personal or family history.
  • One half of US pregnancies are unplanned; this recommendation should apply to all women of reproductive age and be part of preconception counseling.
  • This recommendation reaffirms the 2009 recommendation statement.

Key results

  • The USPSTF recommends “all women who are planning or capable of pregnancy take a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 mg of folic ...