Clinical utility of folate-containing oral contraceptives

Zohra S. Lassi, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Folate is a generic term for a water-soluble B-complex vitamin which plays an important role in protein synthesis and metabolism and other processes related to cell multiplication and tissue growth. Pregnant and lactating women are at increased risk of folic acid deficiency because generally their dietary folate is insufficient to meet their physiological requirements and the metabolic demands of the growing fetus. The evidence pertaining to the reduction of the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) due to folate is so compelling that supplementation with 400 μg of folic acid to all women trying to conceive until 12 weeks of pregnancy has been recommended by every relevant authority. A recent Cochrane review has also found protective effects of folate supplementation in occurrence and reoccurrence of NTDs. Despite food fortification and targeted public health campaigns promoting folic acid supplementation, 4,300,000 new cases occur each year worldwide resulting in an estimated 41,000 deaths and 2.3 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYS). This article will review the burden and risk factors of NTDS, and the role of folate in preventing NTDs. It will also describe different modes of supplementing folate and the newer evidence of the effectiveness of adding folate in oral contraceptives for raising serum and red blood cell folate levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Contraceptives
  • Folate
  • Folate-containing oral contraceptives
  • Oral contraceptives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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