Folic acid in pregnancy
Folic acid is very important for the development of a healthy baby. It can significantly reduce the chance of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
It's recommended that all women who are trying to get pregnant should take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid while they are trying to conceive and throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If you did not take folic acid before pregnancy, you should start this as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
You may wish to discuss with your GP about taking a higher dose once pregnant if:
- You or the baby's biological father have a neural tube defect
- You previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
- You or the baby's biological father have a family history of neural tube defects
- You have diabetes
- You are taking anti-epilepsy medicine
- You have a body mass index (BMI) over 30
Folic acid is also found in leafy green vegetables, brown rice, granary bread and cereals fortified with folic acid. However, it would be impossible to get the right amount from food alone, which is why a dietary supplement is recommended as well.