Can Folic Acid Increase Your Asthma Risk?
If you've ever been pregnant, you've probably taken daily folic acid supplements to safeguard the health of your unborn baby. But did you know that in the process, you could have been increasing your child's risk of developing asthma?
Folic Acid in Pregnancy
Taking folic acid in pregnancy has long been recognized for its protective action in preventing serious neural tube defects, including a condition called spina bifida. This occurs when the spinal cord doesn't fuse together properly as the fetus develops and can cause a number of related health problems and risks.
Research on Folic Acid and Asthma
Researchers from Norway looked at the link between folic acid levels in 2,000 pregnant women and their children's risk of developing asthma and found that the higher the mother's folic acid level during pregnancy, the greater the likelihood of her child having asthma by age three.
Another study conducted by scientists affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, had similar results. However, these researchers also determined that there's no connection between the young child's own folic acid levels and asthma, but that the risk factor seems correlated with the mother's own folate levels.
What This Means for You
While this link is certainly important to examine more closely, scientists stress that the findings to date shouldn't discourage a woman from taking folic acid supplements, since the protective benefits for her unborn child still outweigh the risks.
In the meantime, if you're pregnant and taking folic acid supplements, it's important to follow your doctor's orders and continue taking your normal dose. If you're worried about your unborn child's asthma risk, talk to your doctor about your concerns but don't discontinue your supplement usage, since this could put your child in danger of having a birth defect.
"Government-Recommended Folic Acid Supplements May Increase Asthma Risk." Health Care News. The Heartland Institute, May 2010. Web. 20 March 2011.
"Folic Acid May Increase the Risk of Asthma, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. Sciencedaily.com, Feb. 2011. Web. 21 March 2011.
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