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Letters to the Editor
I appreciate Dr. Noller’s article getting out the word about the importance of prenatal vitamins for healthy newborns.
He acknowledges that taking folic acid reduces anencephaly and other neural tube defects by 70 percent.
It is unfortunate that many young moms and dads think that if she will just avoid tobacco, alcohol and caffeine; take the vitamins; eat healthy food; and go for regular OB checkups, then all will be well.
The heartbreaking truth is that doctors do not know all the causes of neural tube defects.
Doing “everything right” is no guarantee against that other 30 percent of occurrences not accounted for by folic acid deficiency. Is it genetics? Environmental exposure? Providence?
All of those questions go through the minds of that mom and dad who lose a child to anencephaly.
(Incidentally, ultrasound does not always detect anencephaly, at least the devices used 20 years ago. Moreover, because the lower brain stem does develop, the fetus shows a heart beat and physically grows in the womb with no outward sign of a problem.)
By all means, take the folic acid as Dr. Noller recommends, but doctors must be mindful to also prepare expecting parents for the unknown that can produce devastating news on a day that should be one of great joy.
Marcus W. Norris