Are You Getting Enough – Folic Acid?

NHS Forth Valley Community Dietitians are launching a campaign to highlight the importance of folic acid intake amongst women in Forth Valley.

The ‘Are You Getting Enough – Folic Acid?’ campaign aims to encourage women of child-bearing age, who could become pregnant to take a daily supplement – a 400mcg tablet – of folic acid, particularly those planning a pregnancy or those who are already pregnant. These women should start taking folic acid at once and continue each day until the end of the 12th week of their pregnancy. Some women may need a higher dose so if in doubt ask your GP or pharmacist.

The campaign supports World Spina Bifida Day (25th October 2014) as folic acid is a recognised step taken by mothers to reduce the risk of their baby developing the condition. Spina Bifida literally means ‘split spine.’ It is one of the most common and severe birth defects in Europe and occurs while the baby is in the womb and the spinal column doesn’t close all the way during development.

Briefing packs with posters, information cards and fact sheets are being circulated to all pharmacies, GP surgeries, local colleges and family centres in the Forth Valley area to help promote the campaign and drive the message home. Public Health Dietitian Pamela Murray says she hopes this will encourage women to think about taking a vitamin supplement:

“Almost half the pregnancies in the UK are unplanned and even though women are advised to take folic acid supplements many do not, or they start taking them too late. Evidence suggests that taking a folic acid supplement before pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy will reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. So if you are female, sexually active and of child bearing age and there is a chance you might become pregnant then it’s time to take a folic acid supplement.”