of folic acid highlighted by new campaign
A unique event
took place today, when the Minister for Health, Social Services
and Public Safety, Bairbre de Brún MLA joined with the Minister
for Health and Children, Micheál Martin TD to announce details
of an all-Ireland Folic
reflects the concern felt at the very high incidence of Neural
Tube Defects (NTD) such as spina bifida in babies, throughout
the island of Ireland. The Ministers jointly launched the
campaign to make women aware of the major role which folic
acid plays in the prevention of this condition.
Speaking at the
launch Minister de Brún said; "Minister Martin and I have
been working together for some time preparing for a coordinated
and concerted effort to launch an all-Ireland campaign to
highlight the protective benefits of folic acid. "Folic acid
is one of the B vitamins which is found naturally in various
foods. Research has shown that if a woman increases her intake
of folic acid before conception and during the first twelve
weeks of pregnancy the risk of her child developing a NTD
can be reduced by around 70%.
aims to eliminate any confusion, advocate the benefits of
folic acid, encourage more women to take a folic acid supplement
and thereby reduce the number of babies born with spina bifida
and other NTDs."
Two babies a
month are currently born here suffering from a NTD. This figure
rises to approximately nine babies a month for the whole of
The advice from
the Health Promotion Unit and the Health Promotion Agency
for Northern Ireland is that all women who could become pregnant
should take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid, irrespective
of whether or not they are planning for a baby. This is especially
important as approximately 50% of ALL pregnancies are unplanned
is at risk:
the age of the mother
- Whether a
first time mother or not
- Even if there
is no history of spina bifida in the family
Folic acid is
safe to take even over prolonged periods of time, even if
a woman does not become pregnant as the body automatically
gets rid of any excess. Folic acid is available in tablet
form and oral solution from pharmacies and selected supermarkets.
is being supported by TV and radio advertising and a quarter
of a million information leaflets
have been produced. These leaflets will be available to members
of the public from local pharmacies and from the Agency's
*Millennium Babies website.
to the editors: The best sources of folate are
broccoli, peas, parsnips and oranges. Some breads and many
breakfast cereals are fortified with folic acid.
Agency's Millennium Babies website is no longer available.