According to a preliminary study from the Cancer Foundation of Western Australia, women who take supplemental folate and iron during pregnancy may lower their risk of having a baby who develops the most common form of childhood leukemia.
Based on a report on 83 children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 166 healthy children, those whose mothers had taken both folate and iron supplements during pregnancy were about 60% less likely to develop ALL. ALL is an aggressive and often fatal disease of the white blood cells for which no known risk factors exist.
The researchers note that it is unclear how folate and iron may protect against ALL. One possibility is that a deficiency of folate, which is crucial for cell growth and metabolism and the synthesis of DNA, could lead to breaks in strands of DNA and to chromosomal abnormalities.
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