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Clinical utility of folate-containing oral contraceptives

Authors Lassi ZS, Bhutta Z

Received 12 January 2012

Accepted for publication 14 February 2012

Published 23 April 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 185—190

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S18611

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4


Zohra S Lassi, Zulfiqar A Bhutta
Division of Women and Child Health, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

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.

Keywords: folate, folate-containing oral contraceptives, oral contraceptives, contraceptives

Corrigendum for this paper has been published

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