Folic Acid and Pregnancy
Taking folic acid supplements before falling pregnant and in the first three months of pregnancy can reduce the chance of having a baby with Spina Bifida.
Spina Bifida is an abnormality of the spinal cord and sometimes involves the brain. It can cause serious disability.
Folate is a vitamin found in many common healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat. Most women don’t get as much as they need from their diet.
Folate is important for normal spinal cord and brain formation so making sure enough is available by taking supplements is recommended before pregnancy and in early pregnancy.
The supplement form is usually included in multivitamin tablets but is also available in tablets on its own. In Australia the best dose to take for pregnancy is 500 micrograms (mcg) each day. Check the label on the packaging to make sure. Pharmacies, health food shops and supermarkets will have a folate for pregnancy available without needing a prescription.
Anyone with epilepsy or type 2 diabetes should take a higher dose of folic acid before and during pregnancy - 5 milligrams (mg) per day is recommended.