A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said:
“Folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy has been proven to dramatically reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida, which causes life-long disability, and anencephaly, a fatal condition where the baby’s brain and skull do not form properly. The neural tube closes very early in pregnancy, before many women may even know they are pregnant. Rates of NTDs in the UK remain higher than elsewhere in Europe, with around 1,000 pregnancies estimated to be affected every year. The overwhelming majority of these cases end in the painful decision to terminate what is often a much wanted pregnancy. We would absolutely advise women who are planning pregnancies to continue to take folic acid supplements, with the current recommendation to continue with these up until the 12th week of pregnancy.”
The World Health Organisation recommends red blood cell folate levels should be above 906 nmol/L in women of reproductive age to achieve the greatest reduction in NTDs. Analysis of blood samples from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey published in 2015 found among UK women of reproductive age the median level was 535 nmol/L and the mean 614 nmol/L (Scotland mean 563, Northern Ireland mean 512, Wales mean 611)
For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377 or 07788 725185 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.