All sexually active women who might become pregnant are being urged to take the correct dose of folic acid every day to help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida, which occur in the early weeks of pregnancy.
The Go Folic! initiative was launched at the House of Commons in March by the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (ASBAH).
Around 900 babies born in the UK every year go on to develop an NTD and up to 72 per cent of these defects could be prevented, the campaign claims, if women took folic acid tablets at the right time and dosage.
NTD’s happen within the first 28 days of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. It is therefore essential that women take the correct dose of folic acid daily – ideally for three months – before they become pregnant. ASBAH claims that women need to take 400mcg of folic acid daily prior to conception and for the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Some women may need a higher dose, particularly if there is a family history of spina bifida or if the mother has diabetes or coeliac disease or if she takes anti-epileptic medicines.