Heroes of Progress: Lucy Wills - Deepstash

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Heroes of Progress: Lucy Wills

humanprogress.org

Lucy Wills

Lucy Wills was a hematologist who discovered that folic acid could be used to prevent life-threatening types of anemia in pregnant women.

Will's research into women's health during pregnancy has changed prenatal care and saved many lives. Today folic acid is recommended fo...

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  • Lucy Wills was born on May 10, 1888, in Sutton Coldfield, England.
  • Her father was a science graduate, and her mother was the daughter of a doctor, thus she received a robust scientific education.
  • In 1903, she attended Cheltenham School tha...

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In 1928, Lucy Wills was recruited to India and tasked to investigate why millions of pregnant women in the developing world suffered from a severe and often deadly form of anemia.

She found the red blood cells of anemic pregnant women were extremely swollen and consequ...

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  • Wills decided to feed rhesus monkeys in a laboratory with a diet similar to the anemic women. Many of the monkeys came down with anemia.
  • Wills found that liver extract, a previous remedy that was effective in treating Addisonian anemia, was an effective treatment of the type of ane...

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In 1941, the "Wills Factor" was isolated as folic acid. Since the discovery, folic acid has also been found to reduce the risk of severe birth defects, known as neural tube defects that lead to permanent disability, damage to the skull or brain, and often early death.

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