A Dose of Prevention

New research documents folic acid's role in preventing neural birth defects

The interplay of cells and tissues that marks the growth of an embryo is one of nature's most exquisitely orchestrated movements. And, for vertebrates, the formation of the spinal cord and brain from a simple tube of cells is as crucial to life as it is beautiful to contemplate. But any defect in this neural tube, likely to appear early in development, can be devastating. Among the possible results: anencephaly, in which a baby is born minus most of its brain, and spina bifida.

In the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of researchers from Hungary...

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