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Google Honours Haematologist ‘Lucy Wills’ on her 131st Birthday with a Special Doodle

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo
Pic Credit - Google

Pregnant women all over the world will always be thankful to ‘Lucy Wills’ for the vital research she had done that led to the formation of a prenatal vitamin, which helps in preventing birth defects.

The vitamin is known as folic acid and it is a man-made form of folate - a B-vitamin that is naturally found in dark green vegetables as well as citrus fruits. This vitamin plays a significant role in the creation of RBC or red blood cells and when the women takes it before & during pregnancy, it helps prevent birth defects in the child’s brain as well as spinal cord. But this connection was unidentified until 1931, when Lucy Wills published a paper on research of anemia in expecting women in India.

For her ground-breaking work, Google has dedicated its Doodle today to Lucy Wills on her 131st birthday.

You may have seen earlier also that Google uses variations of its Doodle to draw attention to prominent people, events, holidays & anniversaries. Among many other things, Doodles has been celebrating Copernicus' birthday, Pac-Man's anniversary, World Cup, Mother's Day etc. It tries to remind us of lesser-known real-world heroes.

History of Lucy Wills

Lucy Wills was born near Birmingham (England) in the year 1888. She went to three schools that benefited from a more progressive approach to learning - the 1st was Cheltenham College for Young Ladies - a British boarding school that trained female students in science & mathematics.

Later, she went to learn botany & geology at the Cambridge University's Newnham College and got a certificate in 1911 because till1948 the university refused to grant degrees to women. In 1915, she joined the London School of Medicine for Women and became a legally qualified medical practitioner in 1920. She got a bachelor degree in medicine & science.

In spite of her qualifications, Lucy Wills chose research & teaching rather than practicing medicine. And it was her research efforts that took her to India in 1928 to study anemia in expecting women. While observing different classes of women in Bombay, she discovered an association between their dietary habits & the probability of their becoming anemic during pregnancy.

Eventually, her studies suggested that a vitamin deficiency was the reason for this. During her clinical trials, Lucy Wills saw that a laboratory monkey's health improved after he was given British breakfast spread Marmite, which is made of a cheap yeast extract.

Wills’ discovery was the 1st step toward formation of ‘folic acid’. The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention now advises all women of child-bearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid on a daily basis.

Lucy Wills died in 1964 at the age of 75. She could not marry nor have kids as the World War I took many men of her age. But her contribution to births of infinite healthier babies will always be remembered.

Krishi Jagran Team wishes this great medical researcher a very Happy Birthday!!!

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