Main Article Content

Folic acid and brain function in childhood

Asindi Asindi
Komomo Eyong


Folic acid supplementation does not only prevent neural tube defects in the foetus but is an essential ingredient in the growth and development of the cerebral cortex. This micronutrient promotes the thickness of the cerebral cortex; the extent of the thickness being directly proportional to the intelligent quotient, neurocognitive and psychological output of the child. Children with thin cortices are prone to poor cognitive performance, autism and psychiatric disorders such as depression. Folic acid supplementation in the first three months of pregnancy largely protects against neural tube defects; studies have shown that children whose mothers take folic acid supplement throughout pregnancy exhibit relatively higher levels of emotional intelligence. Nevertheless, in spite of long-standing recommendations that women of child-bearing age take folic acid to protect against neural impairment, a large proportion do not comply; less than half of the world’s population lives in countries that require folic acid fortification of grain products. A large portion of pregnant women in poor world countries do not attend antenatal care hence have no access to prescription of essential haematinic/folic acid. It is recommended that all women who are either planning or capable of pregnancy take a daily supplements containing 0.4 - 0.8 mg (400-800 μg) of folic acid. Fortified foods like some breads, juices, and cereals contain adequate folic acid; others are leafy green vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, and lettuce beans, peas, and lentils. Fruits like lemons, bananas, and melons are also rich sources of folate. There is need for more advocacy regarding antenatal care of pregnant mothers with emphasis on folate supplementation before and throughout pregnancy, to boost the intellectual and psychological capacity of children into adulthood.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0302-4660