Sydney: Women who are pregnant or planning for pregnancy may be at risk of losing folic acid through exposure to the sun, Australian researchers warned Wednesday.
A new study by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has found that ultraviolet (UV) exposure significantly depletes folate levels in young women, Xinhua reported.
Michael Kimlin and David Borradale of the university said the study of 45 young healthy women in Brisbane aged 18 to 47, showed high rates of sun exposure accounted up to a 20 percent reduction in folate levels.
"Folate has been found to reduce miscarriage and neural tube defects such as spina bifida (a spinal cord disease) in unborn babies. The NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) recommends pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy take 500 micrograms of folic acid a day," Kimlin said in a statement.
He said women who are outside during the day, when the ultraviolet exposure (between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) is high with inadequate sun protection are at risk of reducing their folate levels.
Borradale said further research including a controlled clinical trial was needed to show the link between ultraviolet exposure and folate depletion.
"The results of this study reinforce the need for adequate folate levels prior to and during pregnancy," he added.
The study was published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.
Sufficient amount of folic acid in the body can help prevent serious birth defects in babies.