CDC issues new health guidelines for healthy pregnant women

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday revised recommendations for children and adults to consider receiving a dose of recombinant folic acid as part of their healthy foods and supplements.

The agency issued new, revised recommendations as part of its National Coverage Determination, an ongoing process to determine the levels of coverage for drugs provided by health insurance and other government programs. The revised recommendations follow a comprehensive review of recent scientific studies in the new version of the CDC website.

According to the new recommendations, adults older than 18 should take a dose of recombinant folic acid as part of a healthy diet or supplements as a preventive measure against developing serious birth defects, such as spina bifida and Turner syndrome.

People younger than 18 should take a dose of recombinant folic acid as part of a healthy diet or supplements as a preventive measure against having a baby with a birth defect. For people age 50 and older, the recommendation is for doctors to discuss with their patients a series of supplements that include recombinant folic acid. It is not mandatory for health care professionals to use this practice.

“This new recommendation includes additional ideas that we’ll keep an eye on in the future to see if they’ll benefit mothers and babies,” the CDC’s Dr. Theresa White said in a press briefing, adding that the agency is continuing to investigate whether or not a dietary component may enhance the impact of recombinant folic acid. “Ideally, we’d like to see a diet that includes all multivitamins and mineral supplements that we recommend, but if it benefits families, it’s important.”

Earlier in March, the CDC released updated information for people of African descent, based on new studies about underlying genetic risk factors. In the CDC’s press release Thursday, the agency said it also updated its recommendation on the occurrence of birth defects and behavioral factors for healthy mothers and babies. For women of childbearing age, the CDC updated the recommendations for cardiac risks and mental health risks for healthy births.

“We know there are improvements we can make and make sure there’s a greater understanding of risk factors,” White said.

The CDC continues to recommend a safe, effective amount of recombinant folic acid to the pregnant woman. This recommendation applies regardless of a person’s weight, gender, gestational age or pregnancy method.

The changes for pregnant women also follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ new recommendation issued in March.

In February 2016, the medical association released guidance recommending women of childbearing age take two levels of recombinant folic acid, one in their first trimester and another at week 20 to week 30. The FDA also recently updated its dietary recommendations, with a more detailed statement about recombinant folic acid changes.

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