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In the News

Lack of Key Enzyme in the Metabolism of Folic Acid Leads to Birth Defects

Thursday, 17 January 2013 

Folic Acid MoleculeScientists discover the clearest mechanistic link yet between folic acid and birth defects, which helps explain why folic acid dietary supplements don't prevent all neural tube defects.

The folic acid molecule.It has been known for several decades that folic acid supplementation dramatically reduces the incidence of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which are among the most common birth defects. In some populations, folic acid supplementation has decreased neural tube defects by as much as 70 percent.

Researchers have discovered that the lack of a critical enzyme in the folic acid metabolic pathway leads to neural tube birth defects in developing embryos.

However, scientists still do not fully understand how folic acid decreases neural tube defects, or why folic acid supplementation does not eliminate birth defects in all pregnancies.  

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