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Dublin: 16°C Monday 15 August 2022

Women hesitant to take folic acid because it 'indicates they are actively trying to get pregnant'

“It was just something you took when pregnant, I didn’t know that was the reason.”

FIONA SHANNON STARTED taking folic acid immediately when she found out she was pregnant, but the mother-of-two says it was too late and her family has now “experienced first-hand how not taking it can impact on someone’s life”.

Fiona’s second daughter, Niamh, was diagnosed with spina bifida at 24 weeks.


Shannon told that at the time of her pregnancies she didn’t know there was a link between folic acid and conditions such as spina bifida.

“It was just something you took when pregnant, I didn’t know that was the reason.”

The mum of two started taking folic acid as prescribed when she was around six weeks pregnant.

Both my pregnancies were planned, but the importance of Folic Acid wasn’t really pushed as much as it is now, or I would have been taking it well before we had conceived.

“It happens from day one or day two of conception so the importance of Folic Acid really needs to be put out there and advertised.”

She said that pregnant women she knows still aren’t being informed.

“The information should be out there – it also does no harm to you in case of an unplanned pregnancy.”

Shannon added that even now advertisements for Folic Acid on television are aimed at pregnant women.

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As it stands only one in three Irish women routinely take folic acid supplements.

shutterstock_363342929 Source: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

Doctor Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, the director of human health and nutrition at Safefood said, “Folic acid is widely available, cheap and a year’s supply can cost less than a single takeaway coffee.

One reason why women are hesitant about taking folic acid is because it indicates they are actively trying to get pregnant. This mindset needs to change with over 50% pregnancies unplanned but most of these are ‘happy accidents’.

Shannon reiterated this, saying, “Taking a folic acid tablet a day is so simple and so easy. It doesn’t mean you’re planning a baby. But it does mean when you have a baby, however far in the future that might be, you’re already helping to protect their health.”

“For a healthy mum and baby, we simply can’t get enough folic acid from our food alone even with fortified foods – taking a daily folic acid supplement of 400 mcg is the only way to go,” continued Dr Foley-Nolan.

Read: A baby might be the last thing on your mind – but you still need to start taking folic acid>

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