September 10, 2001
Folic Acid Use Does Not Increase the Risk for Miscarriage
Article by: CDC Media
CDC, National Center for Infectious Diseases
Findings from a new study in China
show that consumption of folic acid as a vitamin pill to reduce the risk of
neural tube birth defects is safe, and does not increase a woman’s risk of
having a miscarriage.
The study published in the Sept. 8th issue of Lancet, was conducted by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Peking University
Health Sciences Center, China. It focuses on women who had taken part in a
project to prevent neural tube birth defects by taking 400 micrograms of
folic acid a day in pill form.
Researchers found that the risk for miscarriage was essentially the same
among women who did and did not take the folic acid vitamin pill. This study
was the first to evaluate the risk of miscarriage in a large population of
young women who were pregnant for the first time, and who had documented
records of precisely how much folic acid they took before and during early
pregnancy. In addition, women in this study took only folic acid, without
other added vitamins.
For this evaluation, the authors compared the rates of miscarriage among
women who took the folic acid pill as part of the public health campaign and
those who did not take folic acid. The rate of miscarriage was slightly
lower (9.0 percent) for women who took any folic acid before and during
early pregnancy than for women who did not take any folic acid (9.3
The project, conducted in China, was a collaborative effort between lead
author Jacqueline Gindler, M.D., and other researchers from CDC’s National
Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and Dr. Zhu Li, M.D.,
M.P.H., with researchers from Peking University Health Sciences Center,
"By taking folic acid before becoming pregnant, a woman can improve the
chances that her unborn child will be born healthy, by reducing the risk of
a neural tube birth defect," said Dr. Gindler. "Women can take folic acid
with confidence, knowing that it is safe, and will not increase their risk
of having a miscarriage."
Folic acid is widely recommended in the United States and throughout the
world to prevent the occurrence of devastating neural tube birth defects,
which, in the United States, affect an estimated 4,000 pregnancies each
year. Researchers know that folic acid consumption is an effective way to
prevent many of these birth defects if it is consumed before pregnancy.
"This study provides the evidence that taking folic acid pills before and
during early pregnancy is safe, and is not associated with an increase in
the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage," said Dr.
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