Cleft Awareness – What you should know

I remember taking folic acid tablets during both the pregnancies. The doctor asked me to have, and I did. I never asked why. Didn’t find a need to ask! But now when I actually got to know the reason behind it, I thank God for reminding me to take the tablets and never missing a single day.

Folic acid supplements are super important and is supposed to be taken before and during pregnancy. Well, mine were unexpected pregnancies, so I started taking them from the very beginning stage itself. It’s the best if you could start taking it before getting pregnant, if you are planning for a baby.

Folic acid is basically a man-made form of vitamin B (specifically, vitamin B9) called Folate.

Folate plays a major role in increasing the red blood cells. and helps in the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Even though folate is found naturally in dark green vegetables and citrus fruits, it is highly recommended that the pregnant woman should take a supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid supplements (along with iron and calcium) every day. The gynaecologist may advise you to take more folic acid in case if you have any history of genetic disorders in the family.

Benefits of Folic Acid Supplements

  • Prevents Neural Tube Defects
  • Helps in increasing Red Blood Cells
  • Lowers the risk of Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
  • Helps in the development of the baby’s spinal cord
  • Reduce the risk of congenital heart defects
  • Helps in the proper functioning of the DNA
  • Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of preterm labor
  • Reduce the risk of miscarriage

No wonder it’s called the “pregnancy superhero”. Folic acid is crucial in the early stages of pregnancy as that’s the time the major developments of the baby happens, especially major organs and nervous system, heartbeat, arms, fingers, legs, toes, hair and buds for future teeth. It is also said to be one of the most important baby making nutruients.

Folic acid is critically important throughout the pregnancy because the deficiency of it can cause serious birth defects!! It plays an important role in preventing a range of conditions that can happen in the different stages of pregnancy. One such is the cleft lip and cleft palate in babies!

Cleft lip and Cleft palate are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. Together these birth defects commonly are called “orofacial clefts” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cleft lip and cleft palate often develop multiple disorders like early feeding problems, developmental delays, nutritional problems etc. They can also result in communication disorders, hearing problems, psychosocial problems etc.

I have seen people with cleft lip and I have felt sorry for them. Their life is not as easy as we see. The facial abnormality is something that they dread the most! Even though proper treatment and surgery can make a big difference, the cost of it might not be something which everyone can bear! Speech problem is another one to talk about. It is said that they need help learning to make sounds and speak clearly from a very small age itself. Even with an early surgical repair, they might delay in speech sound development and have typical ‘cleft palate speech’.

Cleft lip and cleft palate is something that’s not often talked about in our country. It’s not common, but it is not completely eradicated. I am happy to know that there is a multicenter cleft prevention program, named as Anamaya, in our country and their aim is to create a Cleft-Free India. They associate with the International Cleft Prevention Foundation and creates and awareness about the prevention of this disease.

Do check out their page to get more insight about the same. You can also volunteer with Anamaya and get involved in their activities. Here is the link to their website and facebook page.

I see a Cleft-Free India. Do you?



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    Kavita Singh says:

    This was an informative read for me. I took folic acid tablets too but not really knew the details about it Thank you for sharing it.

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    Neha Tambe says:

    I didn’t know the numerous ways in which folic acid helps in development of babies during pregnancy. This was informative. It is commendable the kind of work anamaya is doing in the area of cleft

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    Dipika Singh says:

    I remember when we visited the doctor before continuing, she administered Folic acid tablets, and also highlighted the reason why we must start with it prior to family planning. Thanks for explaining the details.

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    Anita says:

    Underage pregnancy, multiple pregnancy, maternal malnutrition, over population,lack of education are all Co factors in a problem like this. Great awareness post.

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