Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New birth control pill contains folic acid

From CNN:

A new oral contraceptive that contains folic acid has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Folic acid helps the body make healthy new cells and is critical for pregnant women because it helps prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine such as spina bifida.

The tablet, called Beyaz, has both estrogen and progestin but also contains a folate, a B-vitamin essential for cell growth and reproduction. Beyaz is made by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. and is based on Bayer's previously approved birth control pill YAZ.

Beyaz is approved for pregnancy prevention and a severe form of premenstrual syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD which can cause a host of symptoms including severe depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and mood swings. Beyaz can also be used to treat moderate acne in adolescents at least 14 years old who already have their menstrual cycles and are taking birth control pills.

Getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy will prevent most neural tube defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, starting at least a month before getting pregnant. Beyaz has 451 mg of folic acid.

Dr. Sharon Mass, an OBGYN in private practice in Morristown, New Jersey, thinks the addition of folic acid is a good one. "From the contraceptive perspective we have a commonly used pill with an excellent history in pregnancy prevention–the pill is 99 percent effective when taken as directed." Now there's an added "benefit of giving preconception folic acid to women in their childbearing years which is important for reducing the risk of neural tube defects in a pregnancy that might be conceived after discontinuing the pill," she continued.