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Women taking folic acid 'too late'

2nd September 2009

Women are not taking enough folic acid at the 'right time', according to the Scottish Spina Bifida Association (SSBA).

Spina bifida is a series of birth defects that affect the development of the spine and nervous system, caused during the development of the foetal neural tube during pregnancy.

The most significant risk factor for the condition is widely considered to be insufficient intake of folic acid by expectant mothers.

Chairman of the charity Dr Margo Whiteford told the BBC that they have so far been contacted by as many families in 2009 as they would expect over a 12-month period.

She said: '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.'

Women with a very low intake of folic acid are eight times more likely to give birth to a baby with spina bifida compared with those that take the recommended amount, according to the NHS.

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