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Extra folic acid for women.

ALL women of childbearing age are being advised to take extra folic acid after a rise in spina bifida cases.

The Scottish Spina Bifida Association (SSBA) said 15 babies had been born in the country with the condition this year - around twice the normal number.

Research already suggests that folic acid supplements help prevent spina bifida, but the charity is warning that factors such as unplanned pregnancies can mean the vitamin is taken too late.

Spina bifida causes vertebrae in the backbone to form incorrectly, often leading to paralysis from the waist down and other damage to the nervous system. SSBA chairman Dr Margo Whiteford told the BBC: "This year we've had as many contacts from families in the first half of the year as we'd expect to see for the full year.

"We don't know if this is down to folic acid but we do know that most women don't take enough folic acid at the right time.

"Ladies do know about folic acid preventing spina bifida but they wait until they've missed a period before they start taking it.

"The spinal cord develops within the first four weeks of pregnancy so by that stage it's too late."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 2, 2009
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