All women of child-bearing age are being advised to take extra folic acid after a rise in spina bifida cases, a national charity said today.
The Scottish Spina Bifida Association (SSBA) issued the warning after it was revealed the number of new babies suffering from the disease born this year had doubled.
Research already suggests that folic acid supplements help prevent the condition. Women planning a pregnancy are recommended to take folic acid for three months prior to conception and during the first few months of pregnancy.
However the charity is warning that unplanned pregnancies can mean the vitamin is taken too late.
‘Any sexually active woman of child bearing age should start taking folic acid now,’ a spokesman said.
Spina bifida causes vertebrae in the backbone to form incorrectly, often leading to paralysis from the waist down and other damage to the nervous system.
SSBA chairman Dr Margo Whiteford told the BBC: ‘This year we’ve had as many contacts from families in the first half of the year – a total of 15 – as we’d expect to see for the full year.
‘We don’t know if this is down to folic acid but we do know that most women don’t take enough folic acid at the right time.
‘Ladies do know about folic acid preventing spina bifida but they wait until they’ve missed a period before they start taking it.
‘The spinal cord develops within the first four weeks of pregnancy so by that stage it’s too late – if the baby’s going to have spina bifida it will already have developed it.’
This is as well as eating foods containing the natural form of folic acid such as green vegetables, brown rice, and breakfast cereals.
Currently, it is not mandatory in the UK to add the vitamin to food, although experts are assessing the evidence to make a decision.
Food that contain folate in high doses include leafy green vegetables, oranges, orange juice, dried beans and legumes. If a food contains the sign ‘enriched’, it is likely it contains folic acid. In the US, grains such as flour, rice, pasta, cereals and bread are enriched with folic acid.
You may click to learn more :->Women Needs 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid Every Day
Source: Mail Online. Sept.2 ,2009
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