If you thought folic acid was just for wannabe-mums, think again: the latest advice recommends the B-vitamin for all women who are sexually active, regardless of their plans to start a family.
A new safefood campaign aimed at busting common misconceptions about folic acid reveals that, because 50 per cent of all pregnancies are unplanned, taking the vitamin daily (even if a baby is the last thing on your mind) is the best way to reduce Ireland’s high incidence rate of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) like Spina Bifida among newborn babies.
Less than one in four women take folic acid before they conceive, while one in 10 women wrongly believe they get enough of the vital vitamin from their food.
Speaking at the launch of ‘Babies Know the Facts About Folic’ Prof Michael Turner, UCD Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital said:
“We know from recently published Irish research that three out of four women who attend for antenatal care have not taken folic acid supplements before they become pregnant. Taking folic acid daily as a supplement could potentially prevent two thirds of Neural Tube Defects every year – on average, that’s approximately 50 fewer babies affected every year.”
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health & Nutrition, safefood agrees:
“Taking a daily folic acid supplement of 400 mcg is the only way to go. Folic acid is widely available, and doesn’t cost more than a few cents a day. Taking folic acid doesn’t mean you are planning a baby but just means when you do have a baby, however far in the future that may be, you are already helping to protect their health.”