Pregnant women all over the world have Lucy Wills to thank for crucial research that resulted in the creation of a prenatal vitamin that aids in preventing birth defects.
That vitamin is folic acid — a manmade form of folate, a B-vitamin found naturally in dark vegetables and citric fruits. It plays an important role in the creation of reddish blood cells, so when taken by women before and during pregnancy, it can prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
But this connection was unknown until 1931 when Wills published a paper about research on anemia in pregnant women in India. On her behalf pioneering work, Google devoted its Doodle on Friday to Wills on her behalf 131st birthday.
Google often uses variants of its Doodle to pull focus on notable people, events, vacations and anniversaries. Doodles possess celebrated, among a great many other issues, Pac-Man’s anniversary, Copernicus’ birthday, Mother’s Day and the World Glass, and also reminding us of lesser-known real-world heroes.
Born close to Birmingham, England, in 1888, Wills grew up at the same time when educational possibilities were enhancing for young women desperate to enter an occupation. She attended three academic institutions that benefited from a far more progressive method of education, the first being Cheltenham College for TEENAGERS, a British boarding school training female students in science and mathematics.
She went on to study botany and geology at Cambridge University’s Newnham University, getting a certificate in 1911 since the university refused to grant women degrees until 1948. In 1915, she enrolled at the London College of Medicine for Women and became a legally qualified physician in 1920, generating bachelor degrees in medication and science.
Despite her qualifications, Wills opted for research and teaching instead of practicing medicine. Her study efforts took her to India in 1928 to review anemia in women that are pregnant. During her observations of different classes of Bombay ladies, she discovered a correlation between their dietary habits and the probability of their getting anemic during pregnancy.
Eventually, her studies suggested a vitamin deficiency was at fault. During her clinical trials, she discovered that a laboratory monkey’s wellness improved after being fed the British breakfast pass on Marmite, made of an inexpensive yeast extract.
Her discovery was the first rung on the ladder toward the creation of folic acid. For several years it was the Wills Factor until folic acid was called in 1941 when it had been isolated from spinach.