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Neural tube defects may due to a number of factors acting on a susceptible embryo. The most widely accepted is a lack of folic acid at a critical time of development. Studies in which folic acid supplements have been given are reviewed. The results of these support the policy of giving folic acid, starting before conception.
The metabolism of folate and vitamin B12 is discussed, including specific metabolic disorders; although there is no evidence that these play any part in causing neural tube defects. The special problems that occur among women taking anti-epileptic drugs are also considered.
There are slight differences in the recommendations that have been made for supplementation, and further studies are needed before there can be complete agreement.
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Accepted: April 6, 1995
Received: March 28, 1995
© 1995 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. Published by Elsevier Inc.