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Article
June 5, 1996

Folic Acid and Prevention of Birth Defects

Author Affiliations

WHO Collaborating Centre for the Community Control of Hereditary Diseases Budapest, Hungary

JAMA. 1996;275(21):1635. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530450025018
Abstract

To the Editor.  —Dr Daly and colleagues1 present an important article about the relationship of red cell folate levels to neural tube defect (NTD) risk. If all women achieved a 100% increase in red cell folate (ie, a doubling), which could certainly be achieved by taking an extra 0.4 mg folic acid per day, a 48% total NTD reduction would occur. However, the question now is how to respond to this new knowledge. To improve the motivation of women planning pregnancies, as Daly et al suggested: "It is also worthwhile noting that a population increase in folic acid intake may also have a protective effect on heart disease, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer." In addition, there is a third group of arguments that is related to the reduction of other structural birth defects.2The final data set of the Hungarian randomized, double-blind controlled trial indicated that folate not

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