Sunday, 19 October 2014

Prevent Neural Birth Defects

"Primary care practitioners are ideally situated to carry out health promotion activities. Neural tube defects are of a fairly low incidence, but the consequences are tragic. They range from life long physical and often intellectual disabilities, to death at birth. Increased folate intake, either through eating folate rich foods or through supplementation, has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in newborns by up to 75%.

Encouraging all women of child-bearing age to increase their folate intake could thus prevent a significant number of neural tube defects occurring in the Australian population."
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Although there have been sufficient cases of neural tube defects, the most well known is perhaps spina bifida.
Spina bifida is a condition there the spinal cord is no longer protected by skin cover and can even protrude from the spinal column to create impairment of normal functions and often paralysis.
One of the causes of this condition is known to be a deficiency of folic acid or folate, one of the vitamin B complex group, in the diet of the mother and therefore unavailable to the developing foetus.

The first three months of pregnancy is the vital time when the need is greatest to avert abnormalities and avoid neural tube defects. The first three months of pregnancy are always important for the mother and in the case of this particular problem, can be the period of attention to the nutritional needs of the developing infant that will prevent problems or by neglect in the mother's diet, set the stage as one of the causes. It is vital that women are aware that by inclusion of folate rich ingredients in early pregnancy, any difficulties and any anxiety about a potential problem, can be avoided.

If an infant with serious case of spina bifida survives their birth, this is not the end of the problem for all concerned. The mother will begin an extremely demanding role in nursing and applying what required adjustments are necessary for its care. Other children in the family may suffer a degree of neglect and both individual suffering and the family suffering will continue with ongoing difficulties as any medical treatment as yet is not able to provide a cure. Ongoing research includes trialling a technique of stem cell transplantation and other experimental methods can only offer a potential degree of relief.

The vulnerable damaged neural cells in these conditions such as spina bifida contribute to various symptoms such as reduced motor skills, lack of control of bowel and bladder functions, diminished sensory function and mental retardation. It is not a happy future for the infant or for its parents and carers.
It becomes imperative that all young women and those of childbearing age should be aware of the health responsibility by sufficient inclusion of folic acid rich foods in their normal diet, and intensively in the first three month period.

A simple solution can often produce profound benefits. Although it may be only one of the causative factors behind neural birth defects, eating sufficient fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains as well as specific items and supplementary folate as our national nutritionists and natural therapists advise, is a positive step to ensure a healthy baby.

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