Folic acid is a vitamin from the vitamin B group, known as B9. Our body needs this to produce healthy red blood cells, noradrenalin and serotonin (chemical substances of the nervous system). It helps synthesize DNA (genetic material of the body) and is one of the main ingredients of the cerebrospinal fluid. Adequate folate intake during the preconception period, the time right before and just after a woman becomes pregnant, helps protect against a number of congenital malformations including neural tube defects (which are the most notable birth defects that occur from folate deficiency), such as spina bifida. It also reduces by 40% the risk of congenital heart defects, cleft lip, limb defects, and urinary tract anomalies.
Every woman wanting to get pregnant (therefore also women going through ART procedures) must take a daily supplement of folic acid and her diet must be rich in folate to reduce the risk of a problematic baby. The intake of folic acid must be continued until the end of the 1st trimester of her pregnancy.