One of the first things your doctor will advise you to do when you find out you are expecting is to start taking folic acid, and experts now have a new message to send out to women everywhere.
According to experts behind a new Safefood campaign, all women who are sexually active need to take folic acid on a daily basis – whether or not they are planning a pregnancy.
The latest message comes just months after experts urged women hoping to conceive to go on a course of folic acid even before conception.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign this week, Rhona Mahony of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, said: “Women who are sexually active should start taking the vitamin daily even if a baby is the last thing on their mind.”
Explaining the science behind their message, she added: “Up to 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, but a baby’s crucial neural tube develops in the first few weeks of pregnancy when many women may be unaware they are pregnant.”
The recommendation comes after the publication of a report by the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, which indicated a decrease in the number of women taking folic acid.