Recommendations: Women & Folic Acid

All women of reproductive age should get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day, in addition to consuming food with folate from a varied diet, to help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are major birth defects of the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida).


The CDC, Institute of Medicine, and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force all recommend that women of reproductive age take folic acid to help prevent NTDs.

Recurrence prevention

Women who have already had an NTD-affected pregnancy should consume 400 mcg of folic acid each day even when not planning to become pregnant. When planning to become pregnant, these women should consult with their healthcare provider. CDC recommends that these women consume 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day one month before becoming pregnant and through the first three months of pregnancy.

  • The recommendation to take a higher dose of folic acid is based on data from the most rigorous scientific study involving women who had previous NTD-affected pregnancies. Dosages lower than 4,000 mcg have not been studied in women who have had a previous NTD-affected pregnancy.
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More information

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