Current recommendations

Recommendation from the U.S. Public Health Service 

“Available evidence indicates that 0.4 mg (400 mcg) per day of folic acid, one of the B vitamins, will reduce the number of cases of NTDs. In order to reduce the frequency of NTDs and their resulting disability, the United States Public Health Service recommends that:

All women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume 0.4 mg of folic acid per day for the purpose of reducing their risk of having a pregnancy affected with spina bifida or other NTDs. Because the effects of high intakes are not well known but include complicating the diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency, care should be taken to keep total folate consumption at less than 1 mg per day, except under the supervision of a physician. Women who have had a prior NTD-affected pregnancy are at high risk of having a subsequent affected pregnancy. When these women are planning to become pregnant, they should consult their physicians for advice.”1


  1. CDC (1992). Recommendations for the use of folic acid to reduce the number of cases of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. MMWR, 41(no. RR-14).

  2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Folic acid for the prevention of neural tube defects: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med 2009;150:626-31.

  3. Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes: Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline. Washington, DC, National Academy Press, April 17, 1998. 

  4. ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins. ACOG practice bulletin. Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists. Number 44, July 2003. (Replaces Committee Opinion Number 252, March 2001). Obstet Gynecol 2003;102:203-13. 

  5. American Academy of Family Physicians. Summary of Recommendations for Clinical and Preventive Services. March 2008. 

  6. Folic acid for the prevention of neural tube defects. American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Genetics. Pediatrics 1999;104:325-7. 

  7. Klein JD; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence. Adolescent pregnancy: current trends and issues. Pediatrics 2005;116:281-6.

  8. Practice parameter: management issues for women with epilepsy (summary statement). Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Epilepsia 1998;39:1226-31.


Revised: June 6, 2011

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