A new Canadian study shows that women thinking about getting pregnant, or who are early in their first trimester, significantly lower their odds of having a baby with a serious major birth defect by taking prenatal vitamins. Now, researchers from Toronto and London, Ont., have found folic-acid fortified multivitamin supplements provide "consistent protection" against other congenital anomalies, including cardiovascular defects such as "holes in the heart," limb defects, cleft palate, urinary tract problems, and hydrocephalus — water buildup on the brain that can lead to irreversible brain damage. Dr. Gideon Koren, the study’s principal investigator and director of the Motherisk Program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, says ‘right now, we tell women just to take folic acid when planning pregnancy. But it seems from our results you need more than that. Other vitamins also protect the women from birth defects in the child’. The team combined the results of 41 of the best studies they could find from 1966 to 2005 where researchers looked to see if the mother took prenatal vitamins or not, and then calculated the rates of birth defects. Women who took a multivitamin had a 33 per cent lower risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect. They were up to 39 per cent less likely to have a baby with a cardiovascular defect and up to 63 per cent less likely to deliver a baby with hydrocephalus.