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Folic Acid

In this section you will learn about the importance of Folic acid during pre-conception.

Folic acid is a vitamin that helps with baby’s brain and spinal cord development.  Having adequate folic acid in the mother’s system prior to pregnancy reduces the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects by more than 70%. 

The beneficial effect is improved if folic acid levels are sufficient during the 3 months before conception. 

  • Most women are recommended to take 400mcgs folic acid for 3 months prior to conception and the first 3 months of the pregnancy.  In women who present during pregnancy then folic acid should be started as soon as possible. 
  • Some women require 5mgs folic acid, which requires a prescription from the GP.  There are other times when the higher dose is also required for the first 3 months of the pregnancy and occasionally it is recommended that women are recommended  to take folic acid throughout the pregnancy to have the beneficial effect. 
  • 5mgs folic acid is recommended for women with: 
    • If either partner has a neural tube defect (ie spina bifida) 
    • Either partner has a family history of neural tube defect 
    • A previous pregnancy was affected by a neural tube defect 
    • If the mother has diabetes 
    • If the woman takes folate antagonist medication for treatment of epilepsy or HIV  
    • Being overweight (BMI > 30kg/m2
    • If they have an inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia or thalassaemia.