February 27, 2007
Question from Cleveland, Ohio, USA:
I understand the relationship between diabetes and neural tube defects, but why are women with pre-existing diabetes asked to take such high doses of folic acid during the pre-conceptional and early pregnancy periods? Do type 1 diabetics absorb less folic acid than non-diabetics?
For details, I would suggest that you go to Google and enter “folic acid” and “spina bifida.” In summary, there is a good deal of research showing a relationship between folic acid (folate) supplementation and a reduction in spina bifida. Much of this work comes from the U.K., which has a higher incidence of this disorder. Similar studies have been done in the U.S. also showing a reduction in spina bifida. Diabetes is a separate risk factor for spina bifida, therefore, it is recommended that women with diabetes take extra folate to reduce the risk of this condition.