Expectant mothers have long been advised to avoid certain foods during their pregnancy. And it is also well known that the use of certain supplements can contribute to promoting good health and wellbeing for both the mother and the unborn child.
But while everyone has good intentions, many simply forgot to take recommended vitamins that could be beneficial to their growing baby.
The most commonly acknowledged and supported supplement is folic acid, which helps reduce the risk of certain congenital malformations. Currently, however, only one in four women takes it before pregnancy – so health officials in the UK have put forward a proposal to enrich flour with folic acid in motion to help reduce fetal abnormalities.
British Public Health Minister Steve Brine said he would increase folate intake in pregnant women and consequently reduce their risk of spina bifida and other congenital malformations. Prof. Dame's English physician chief, Sally Davies, said the evidence showed that "Strengthening Folic Acid Flour is a practical way to reduce folate deficits in pregnant women and reduce congenital malformations."
"I am delighted that the government is taking action on this issue and I hope that the wider scientific community will participate in its important consultations that could benefit and improve the lives of many women and children in this country," she said. "However, like any kind of intervention of this kind, we need to be sure it's also safe, and that means considering what wider consequences will be for the rest of the population who eats flour."
Alison Wright, vice president of the Royal Academy of Gynecologists and Gynecologists in the UK, says the college supports the challenges of enriching leaf flour. "It is clear that the fortifications will prevent about half of them [1,000 diagnoses of] "Strengthening folic acid flour is a simple, safe and evidence-based measure that addresses women who do not get enough folic acid in their diet as well as people who do not have to plan their pregnancies."
Health Ministry spokespersons said they "are aware of the UK media reports, but there is currently no policy on fortification of folic acid food."
So in the absence of enriched flour for pregnant women in this country, Dr Cliodhna Foley Nolan Safefood Ireland says that all women who could get pregnant should use folic acid daily, regardless of whether they are planning a pregnancy or not. "The Safefood Campaign" Children Know About Folio Facts "reminds women that taking folic acid supplements daily is the best way to reduce the risk of a baby having a neural tube disorder such as spina bifida," he says.
"For a healthy mother and baby, the only way to achieve adequate folic acid is to take it every day as a supplement of 400 micrograms and that's the only way to go. There has been some recent debate on fortified foods with folic acid, but it is still some way to go, but with fortified food, the daily ingredient provides the best protection for the spine and the brain of the unborn child. "
Professor of UCD obstetrics and gynecology professor at Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Coombe Prof. Michael Turner says women should start with folic acid before pregnancy and not expect to plan for pregnancy or until they get pregnant.
"Daily use of 400 micrograms of folic acid can potentially prevent two-thirds of neural tube disorders – on average, it is about 50 less affected children each year," he says.
A dr. Rhona Mahony, a former master of the National Holly Street Maternity Hospital, agrees:
"We know that women are aware of the benefits of folic acid, but up to 50 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned, so it is important that every woman who could get pregnant starts to enjoy it every day, even if the baby is the last thing he thinks," advises. "The baby's neural tube develops during the first weeks of pregnancy, when many women may not know they are pregnant, and therefore need folic acid to become part of their daily routine."
In the recent on-line Safefood survey, the most common barriers that women have when using folic acid have low relevance (42%); lack of advice on folic acid (40%); the belief that the contraceptive was 100% effective (37%) and forgot to use folic acid (30%).
A couple of cents
But Foley Nolan says folic acid is widely available, does not require prescription and does not involve more than a few cents a day.
"By using it every day, women take control of their own health," he says. "It does not mean you're planning a baby, but it means that if you have a baby, however unplanned or far in the future, you can already help protect your health."
And midwife Tracy Donegan says that when folic acid is essential, natural folate is the best choice.
"Most experts recommend daily taking 600 micrograms of folate to prevent serious birth defects in the brain and spine of the baby," he says gentlebirth.ie founder. "Folic acid prevents this, but has no other natural natural folate.
"Some folate is already found in food, but it may be difficult to get the recommended amount of your diet alone. For this reason, all women, especially anyone planning a pregnancy, should consider whenever possible daily supplements of vitamins contains folate rather than folic acid. "