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To investigate if maternal folic acid supplementation (5 mg) is associated with a reduction of cleft palates, umbilical hernias, stillbirths and caesarean sections in a guide dog breeding colony. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and Labrador/golden Crosses from the breeding colony of a professional guide dog training organisation were eligible for inclusion. Dams in the treatment group (n = 137) received 5 mg oral folic acid supplementation daily from the start of pro-oestrous through day 40 of gestation. A historical control group (n = 134) was selected from the previous calendar year for comparison. A logistic regression model identified the relative risk of disease (cleft palates, umbilical hernias, stillbirths and caesarean sections) for puppies whose dams did or did not receive folic acid supplementation. A total of 1917 puppies (890 control, 1027 treatment; from 294 litters) were produced during the entire study period, with 994 puppies (494 control, 500 treatment; from 144 litters) born to the subset of dams (n = 72) who produced litters during both the control and treatment periods. All 95% highest posterior densities of relative risk included 1.0, failing to detect differences between the treatment and control groups on incidence rate of cleft palate (control: 2.25%; treatment: 2.34%), umbilical hernias (control: 1.91%; treatment: 3.12%), stillbirths (control: 3.26%; treatment: 2.92%) and caesarean sections (control: 1.45%; treatment: 1.28%). There was no observable reduction of cleft palate, umbilical hernia, stillbirth or caesarean section associated with folic acid supplementation during pregnancy in the study colony. For a domestic dog cohort with a low tendency of hereditary malformations, such as this study colony, 5 mg dietary folic acid supplementation should not be expected to drastically improve or eradicate these diseases. © 2021 British Small Animal Veterinary Association.


K L Gonzales, T R Famula, L C Feng, H M N Power, J M Bullis. Folic acid supplementation does not decrease stillbirths and congenital malformations in a guide dog colony. The Journal of small animal practice. 2021 Apr;62(4):286-292

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PMID: 33496345

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