If you’re thinking about trying for a baby, do you know when you should take folic acid – and why it’s so important? Find out the facts in this post, where you can also win Pregnacare Conception in our brand new competition for World Folic Acid Awareness Week
This week, from 7th – 13th January, is World Folic Acid Awareness Week, set up to make sure everyone knows how important it is for women to take folic acid to reduce the risk of NTDs (neural tube defects) such as spina bifida, that occur in the foetus during pregnancy.
The International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF) is one of the organisations at the forefront of working towards the prevention of lifelong conditions resulting from NTDs, and are behind World Folic Acid Awareness Week. Pregnacare is a global partner of IF, and to help mark the week, we’re giving away Pregnacare Conception in our new competition.
When it comes to folic acid and pregnancy, did you know:
- The NHS recommends that you take a daily supplement containing 400μg of folic acid for at least one month before and up to three months after conception.
- Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida occur in the first 28 days of pregnancy, before many women are even aware that they are pregnant, which is why the timing of when you take folic acid is so important.
- In addition, it can be beneficial to take folic acid least three months before you start trying to conceive, to safeguard nutritional stores, and continuing beyond week 12 of pregnancy, since folate contributes to maternal tissue growth.
- Research also shows taking vitamin B12 alongside folic acid, is more effective in preventing neural tube defects than taking folic acid alone.*
- If you didn't take folic acid supplements before getting pregnant, it’s not too late. Start taking them as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
What are NTDs and how can we prevent them?
NTDs occur when the brain and spine fail to form properly in the foetus, resulting in varying degrees of permanent damage to the spinal cord and nervous system.
More than 25 years ago, a ground-breaking study conducted by the Medical Research Council (headed up by Professor Sir Nicholas Wald), proved beyond all doubt that vitamin B9, otherwise known as folic acid, reduced the risk of NTDs by up to 72%.
However, it is estimated that we are still only preventing around 15% of folic acid preventable NTDs around the world.
There are many natural sources of folic acid including wholemeal bread, cereal and leafy green veg. However, it is difficult to eat enough of these products to get the right amount of folic acid purely from food, which is why it is so important to take a supplement if you're thinking about getting pregnant.
In addition to taking folic acid supplements, women can eat a well-balanced diet rich in natural folates and eat fortified breads and cereals to maximise the risk reduction of NTDs.
WIN: Pregnacare Conception in our new competition
Pregnacare Conception supplements are designed to be taken before you get pregnant and include 400mcg folic acid, the exact level recommended by the UK Department of Health from the start of trying to conceive.
Providing advanced nutritional support for women trying for a baby, Pregnacare Conception also contains vitamin D and vitamin B12, plus zinc which is scientifically proven to support normal fertility and reproduction.
To help celebrate World Folic Acid Awareness Week, we’re giving away five prizes of Pregnacare Conception, each consisting of three packs.
To enter – use the Rafflecopter widget below to let us know one of the ingredients in Pregnacare Conception. For extra entries, you can follow TalkMum on Twitter or visit TalkMum on Facebook. Winners will be picked from all correct entries received by the closing date of 11.59pm on Wednesday 30th January.
* Addition of Vitamin B12 to folic acid supplements to optimise the prevention of Spina Bifida and other Neural Tube Defects, Professor John M. Scott, Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland