1. K-State home
  2. »College of Human Ecology
  3. »News
  4. »K-State expert: Link between diet, birth defects a concern - College of Human Ecology News

College of Human Ecology

K-State expert: Link between diet, birth defects a concern

Monday, April 23, 2007

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Following a low-carbohydrate diet that excludes vitamin- and mineral-enriched grain products in the months prior to or early in a pregnancy may increase the risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida if additional supplements are not taken, said Kansas State University nutrition educator Sandy Procter.

Spina bifida is a defect in the development of the spinal column.

Enriched grain products typically include folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, a B-vitamin that has been proven to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects, said Procter, who is a registered dietitian, specializing in maternal and early childhood nutrition.

Women of child-bearing age (15 to 44) are encouraged to supplement their diets with 400 micrograms of folic acid per day, in addition to food sources, she said. If a woman´s diet lacks adequate food sources of folic acid, and she does not take a supplement, there is a risk of folic acid deficiency.

While enriched grain products provide the most available source of the B vitamin, nutrition professionals also recommend folate-rich foods such as whole grains, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, lentils, chickpeas (also known as garbanzos) and avocados - to help meet recommended daily guidelines.

In recent research, folic acid also appears to improve cognitive function in older adults, Procter said.

For most people, choosing a diet that excludes one or more food groups can rob the individual of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed for health, said Procter, who recommended eating a variety of foods that contribute to health.

More information about food, nutrition and health is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices or on the Extension Web site: www.oznet.ksu.edu/humannutrition/.

K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

Story by:
Nancy Peterson
K-State Research and Extension

For more information: Sandy Procter is at 785-532-1575 or procter@humec.ksu.edu

This article was posted on Monday, April 23, 2007, and is filed under Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.