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Ireland: Women urged to take folic acid before conceiving to avoid defects

Call for public information campaign after study reveals 27% rise in neural tube defects:

A major public health campaign is urgently needed to remind women of the importance of taking folic acid to prevent birth defects, leading Irish obstetricians have advised. The call has been made in response to research which shows a rise in the incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, which are largely preventable through the intake of folic acid before and after conception.

Studies of women attending the Coombe women’s hospital show that as few as a quarter have taken folic acid before conception and that the numbers taking the supplement are declining. Another recently published study has revealed a decline in the number of food products fortified with folic acid. This means women are less likely to consume the vitamin passively in their diet. UCD professor of obstetrics at the Coombe Michael Turner said the Government’s public health advice needed to be updated in the light of these findings. “The message for women is that you shouldn’t wait until you are pregnant to take folic acid. Any woman who could get pregnant should be taking it.”


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