"Babies Know the Facts About Folic" Campaign

As an older man (cough) my days of thinking about having babies are well over. That said, I have become hugely interested in our latest campaign to promote folic acid supplements for women.

I am not one of our scientific experts and before the campaign started, I didn’t know that women on the island of Ireland are genetically more prone to having babies with neural tube defects such as spina bifida (These conditions occur when a baby’s spine and brain does not develop properly in the womb). Nor did I know that rates may be rising.

Around 100 babies each year are born on the island of Ireland with a neural tube defect (NTD) such as spina bifida. The striking thing is that more than 70% of NTDs could be prevented by simply taking a 400 microgram folic acid supplement before a woman becomes pregnant and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

We know from research that three out of four women who attend for antenatal care have not taken folic acid supplements before they become pregnant. A common reason is that people often believe that you can get enough folic acid from your diet to support pregnancy. The truth is it’s not possible to get all the extra folic acid you need to prevent NTDs even if you are eating a balanced diet. Folic acid supplements are cheap though, costing only a few cent / pence every day, and readily available in all chemists and most supermarkets.

The vast majority of women have heard about folic acid but unfortunately only think about taking it when they are actively planning a pregnancy. However, about half of pregnancies are unplanned and many women are a few weeks into pregnancy before they realise it. A baby’s neural tube forms around 21 days into a pregnancy when many women don’t yet know that they’re pregnant as they may not even have a missed period yet. Taking folic acid after you find out you are pregnant is not ideal for providing maximum protection for your baby.

That’s why we are launching a campaign this week highlighting that all women who are sexually active and who could become pregnant need to take folic acid daily, irrespective of whether they are planning a pregnancy or not.

The campaign will highlight this safe and effective way of preventing the majority of NTDs. We’ll be using social and digital media, in particular, to alert women during July and August with added instore promotional support across the island of Ireland from pharmacy chains, folic acid manufacturers, GP surgeries and retail outlets where folic acid is sold.

If you are reading this and see any of our campaign messages online we’re asking you to seriously consider it, to chat to friends and family about it and to help us share this important message. You can follow the conversation by using the hashtag #FolicFacts


Posted: 16/07/2015 15:04:05 by Ray Dolan
Filed under: Campaigns, Folic acid

About Me

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Ray Dolan
Hi, my name is Ray Dolan and I am the CEO of safefood. I am married with 3 adult children and my background is in finance and administration. I am a trained accountant and was head of corporate operations at safefood before becoming CEO. I enjoy following sport as a fan and I play golf and tennis. I have given up on getting my handicap down but still dream of getting a hole in one.