Are You Getting Enough Folic Acid?
The aim of SBH Scotland's “Are you getting enough Folic Acid?” campaign is to find new ways to increase folate levels in women to reduce the number of Neural Tube Defects (NTD) of which spina bifida is the most common.
This is particularly relevant for all sexually active women of child bearing age in Scotland, as historically Scotland has had a higher prevalence of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) than the rest of Europe (Eurocat 2010). The latest figures available in Scotland confirms that over 1 in every 1000 pregnancies are affected. (SPIMMR:2012).
Spina bifida is a Neural Tube Defect which occurs in pregnancy. It is caused by the failure of the neural tube to close properly and the fault occurs in the first 28 days of pregnancy. This may result in multiple disabilities. Around 80% of those with spina bifida have hydrocephalus , a condition that affects the brain and how it functions.
The knowledge that a simple B vitamin (folic acid) can help to prevent these lifelong disabilities is the spur for SBH Scotland to promote this important health awareness message.
NHS guidelines state that every woman who might become pregnant should take folic acid supplements as a precaution. However, folic acid needs to be taken prior to conception and not once the woman discovers that she is pregnant, as by that time the fault may already have developed.
Unfortunately, a study has revealed that over *50% of women in Scotland are still not taking folic acid prior to pregnancy.
Additionally, as most pregnancies are unplanned, SBH Scotland recommends that all sexually active women of child bearing age in Scotland, who are thinking of becoming pregnant or who could become pregnant by accident, should take folic acid regularly. Compliance could prevent up to 72% of NTDs.
Didn't know you should take folic acid before you get pregnant? Neither do a lot of people! Please spread the word so we can increase awareness across Scotland.
*Bradshaw, P., Bromley, C., Hill, T., Mabelis, J., Parkes, A., Smith, K., Sweeting, H., Warner, P. and Wight, D. (2013) Growing Up in Scotland: Birth Cohort 2 - Results from the first year, Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
Find out more about folic acid here.