Taking folic acid not part of women's routine

When it comes to morning routines, checking smartphones and social media appears to be a priority for many women, while taking a folic acid tablet is not, new research suggests.

According to the findings, Irish women are three times more likely to check their phone in the morning than to take a folic acid tablet.

The research was released by Safefood as part if its ongoing campaign to remind women of childbearing age of the importance of taking folic acid.

Folic acid is a B-group vitamin, which is known to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) in babies. NTDs are birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. One of the most common types of NTD is spina bifida, a defect in which the spinal column fails to form properly.

Around 80 babies are born in Ireland with NTDs every year, however as many as 70% of these could be avoided if women took folic acid.

The vitamin should be taken in the three months before conception and for the first three months of the pregnancy. However, as around half of all pregnancies are thought to be unplanned, women of childbearing age who are sexually active are recommended to take it.

According to the research from Safefood, just 25% of women aged between 18 and 49 take folic acid as part of their morning routine, yet over 80% check their phone/social media in the morning.

"Over 70% of Irish women report starting their day with a healthy breakfast and 95% brush their teeth every morning. What we want women to do is to take on a new healthy habit - take a daily 400microgram folic acid supplement - it's even easier than brushing your teeth and takes only seconds to do," commented Dr Marion O'Reilly, chief specialist in nutrition with Safefood.

She noted that with around 50% of all pregnancies unplanned, taking folic acid every morning ‘gets you into a healthy habit, even if a baby is the last thing on your mind'.

The campaign also emphasised that the cost of folic acid is minimal. A survey of prices carried out last year found that some tablets cost less than €2 for a year's supply.

"Almost half (45%) the women in our survey said the best way to create a new healthy habit is to be prepared. With folic acid, keep it near your toothbrush, beside your bed or somewhere that will remind you to take it as part of your morning routine," added Dr Aileen McGloin, communications manager at Safefood.

For more information on folic acid, click here


[Posted: Wed 27/09/2017]

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