The importance of folic acid in the diet has been widely publicised for years, and now Irish experts are pushing for a campaign to highlight this.
The push comes after Professor Michael Turner of the Coombe Maternity Hospital urged women to incorporate folic acid supplements into their diet on a daily basis in the lead-up to conceiving a baby, in order to reduce the risk of birth defects.
Prof Turner told the Oireachtas health committee that ideally, women should start taking folic acid supplements at least three months before they conceive and continue on the process for three months into pregnancy.
He added that taking 400mcg of folic acid during this period could dramatically reduce the risk of the baby developing conditions such as spina bifida.
“We need a renewed public health campaign to increase awareness about the potential of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects,” explained Prof Turner.
He added: “Women of childbearing age use smart phones extensively to access pregnancy-related information. Thus, future campaigns should use social media as well as traditional communication channels.”
Going from recent research, Prof Turner revealed that up to 40 cases of children born with spina bifida could be prevented annually by ensuring that women follow these suggested guidelines for taking folic acid both before and during pregnancy.