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Planning a family?

Folic acid supplements taken when planning a pregnancy can help reduce the risk of the baby having spina bifida or other Neural Tube Defects (NTD).

If you a planning a pregnancy, the NHS suggest you should take a daily 0.4 mg (400 microgram) folic acid supplement during the time you are trying to conceive until the 12th week of pregnancy. You should also eat more foods containing folate (the natural form of folic acid).

For certain groups of women an increased 5mg dose is recommended as they may have a higher risk of having a baby with these problems

  • Those who have a NTD or a family history of NTD
  • Those whose partner has a NTD or a family history of NTD
  • Those with diabetes
  • Those with coeliac disease
  • Those taking anti-epilepsy medication

These women should ask their GP for a higher dose of 5mg, which is only available on prescription.

A recent study has suggested that women who are overweight may also be at increased risk of having babies with spina bifida and should seriously consider trying to lose weight prior to planning a pregnancy

Folic acid is easily available in most supermarkets and pharmacies.

Please consult your doctor or local pharmacist for advice on taking folic acid supplements.

Further information on folic acid

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