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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive March 26, 2014

 

Of 45 young healthy women in Brisbane aged 18 to 47, those who showed high rates
of sun exposure accounted for up to a 20 per cent reduction in their folate levels.






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UV exposure lowers folate in young women

Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant and taking a folic acid supplement, may be at risk of reducing their folate benefit through sun exposure, a new QUT study has warned.

In a paper titled "Exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation is associated with decreased folate status in women of childbearing age," published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, QUT researchers found UV exposure significantly depleted folate levels.


Professor Michael Kimlin and Dr David Borradale, from QUT's AusSun Research Lab, said the study of 45 young healthy women in Brisbane aged 18 to 47, showed high rates of sun exposure accounted for up to a 20 per cent reduction in folate levels.


"This is concerning as the benefits of folic acid are well-known, with health professionals urging young women to take a folic acid supplement prior to and during pregnancy," says Professor Kimlin.
"Folate has been found to reduce miscarriage and neural tube defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies. The NHMRC recommends pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy take 500 micrograms a day."

Professor Kimlin said the study, which was the first to investigate the effects of sun exposure on folate levels in women of childbearing age, found women who had high levels of sun exposure had folate levels below those recommended for women considering pregnancy.

"The women at risk were those who were outside during the most UV
intense time of the day, between 10am and 3pm, with little sun protection,"
Professor Kimlin said."These were the women who had the highest levels of sun exposure and the lowest levels of folate, whilst not deficient in folate, they were on the lower side of normal."


Dr Borradale said, in showing the link between UV exposure and folate depletion, further research including a controlled clinical trial was needed.

"We are not telling women to stop taking folate supplements, but rather urging women to talk to their doctor about their folate levels and the importance of folate in their diet, especially those who are planning a pregnancy," Dr Borradale said. "The results of this study reinforce the need for adequate folate levels prior to and during pregnancy."


What is folate and how can I get it?

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is very important for pregnant women and those planning a baby. Folate is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables like spinach, citrus fruits, legumes, whole grains and vegemite. Folic acid is also added to many foods such as breads, flours and pastas. Folic acid can also be taken as a pill.


Abstract
In vitro studies indicate that folate in collected human blood is vulnerable to degradation after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This has raised concerns about folate depletion in individuals with high sun exposure. Here, we investigate the association between personal solar UV radiation exposure and serum folate concentration, using a three-week prospective study that was undertaken in females aged 18-47years in Brisbane, Australia (153 E, 27 S). Following two weeks of supplementation with 500μg of folic acid daily, the change in serum folate status was assessed over a 7-day period of measured personal sun exposure. Compared to participants with personal UV exposures of <200 Joules per day, participants with personal UV exposures of 200-599 and >600 Joules per day had significantly higher depletion of serum folate (p=0.015). Multivariable analysis revealed personal UV exposure as the strongest predictor accounting for 20% of the overall change in serum folate (Standardised B=-0.49; t=-3.75; p=<0.01). These data show that increasing solar UV radiation exposures reduces the effectiveness of folic acid supplementation. The consequences of this association may be most pronounced for vulnerable individuals, such as women who are pregnant or of childbearing age with high sun exposures.