How Moms could help reduce Heart Defects!

There is new research from Canada that is showing a lot of potential:  Folic Acid, a form of Vitamin B9, could be a factor in lowering the occurrences of severe heart defects.

Earlier research links Folic Acid to lower occurrences of Spina Bifida and may lower the chances of premature birth, but new studies have shown another possible benefit of Folic Acid.  Researchers in the Province of Quebec studied the rate of serious heart defect births from 1989 to 1998, and again from 1998 to 2005. (In 1998, Quebec mandated that Folic Acid be added to grain products such as pasta and bread).

From 1989 to 1998, the number of children born with serious heart defects in Quebec averaged 1.64 per 1000 children born. While that seems to be lower than the United States figure I usually quote – 8 out of 1000 children are born with a heart defect – it’s different. The Canadian study is tracking serious heart defects, the US number is the total number of children born with a heart defect of any kind. Serious heart defects are usually defined as any of the defects that cause Cyanosis.

In the period before Folic Acid additives was mandated for grain products, the Canadians found an average of 1.64 children out of 1000 were born with a serious heart defect. After the introduction of Folic Acid, the rate of serious heart defects dropped – from 1.64 to 1.47 children out of 1000!

And while the link hasn’t been proven, there is a lot of evidence to show that it is there. The decrease in serious heart defects began to occur at about the same time as a higher level of Folic Acid was introduced into the diet. And the decrease occurred in spite of the fact that more women were overweight when they gave birth and they were having children later in life, both factors that usually increase the chances of heart defects.

While there is no guarantee that any medical condition can be avoided, it makes sense to do everything possible to tip the odds in your child’s favor.  So ask your personal physician his/her opinion about taking Folic Acid during your pregnancy.

Your friend,


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9 Responses to “How Moms could help reduce Heart Defects!”

  1. Andrea Himmelberger Says:

    While it’s nice to know that taking folic acid might decrease the chances of having a child with a heart defect, I don’t think you could necessarily say that mom’s can prevent it by taking their supplement. I took folic acid for months before conceiving my heart child. How I wish it would have protected his heart! I’m also concerned that some heart moms might feel a sense of guilt or responsibility if they didn’t take folic acid, even though most of us have been told there was nothing we could have done to prevent our child’s heart defect.

  2. Michelle Says:

    As a heart mom, i took my prenatal vitamins religiously even before I became preganant with my son. While it is nice to educate the public about the importance of prenatal care, I am not comfortable with what this post is implying. Sometimes heart defects just happen! I did ALL the right things throughout both of my pregnancies and still had a son with TOF.

  3. Steve Says:

    Michelle and Andrea;

    I’ve reread my post and the links behind it with a more critical eye, and I agree with you – I’ve presented it incorrectly. I imply in the title that Heart defects can be STOPPED, when the post (and the research) show that they can only be reduced.

    And obviously, there is no reason or need for someone to blame themselves – a lot of Heart Moms (mine included) did everything right. We still don’t know the “triggers” that cause heart defects. I’ve edited and re-written the post, hopefully to better reflect the research.

    I want to thank both of you for speaking out – I don’t know everything and obviously, I am not immune to mistakes. Comments and feedback can only make this blog better!


  4. Casey's Mom Says:

    I agree with….all of you! I took folic acid before and during my pregnancy with my heart child. However, after reading the first line or two of your post, I thought maybe you had research on how VERY minor heart defects in mom’s might be a reason for serious heart defects in some kids. I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse when I was 25 years old, and it rarely effects ANYTHING I do in life. I was told it was no big deal, just take antibiotics when I go to the dentist.
    Since Casey’s birth four years ago, I’ve heard that there might be a link, although a very small one. If you have any information on that subject, I would love to hear it!

  5. Baby Accessories for Modern Moms | Baby & Parenting Information Says:

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  6. Julie N. Says:

    Folic acid is turning out to have numerous additional health benefits to fetal development as well as overall health.

  7. carolyn compton Says:

    Folate, green leafies, veg. all good for you! there is a movement to put folate into breads. Some of the arguements against it are that people’s responsibility for their own health is taken away. I don’t know what the answer is. most women do take pre natal care seriously and some people haven’t heard about folate. Thanks steve.

  8. University Degrees for Stay-at-Home Moms | Baby & Parenting Information Says:

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  9. SONNET Says:

    You are wright mothers should start Follic Acid as early as diagnosed pregnancy. But the problem is some forget and the value is better while taking in early months.

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