Is 12 weeks too late to take folic acid?

After 12 weeks it is not harmful to take folic acid but the neural tube will have grown and so it will not benefit from it.

Folic acid is a vitamin that helps in the early formation of your baby's neural tube, which will turn into the brain and the spine.

Why is folic acid important?

Taking folic acid while trying for a baby (ideally for three months to build up the level of folate in your body) and for the first three months of pregnancy reduces the risk of spina bifida to almost zero.

Because of this, it is recommended that women who are trying for a baby start taking folic acid before they become pregnant and then carry on taking it for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

I found out at 12 weeks, should I still take it?

By 12 weeks, the baby's neural tube will have closed and so it is not necessary to take folic acid, but it is not harmful to take it all the way through your pregnancy if you are taking pregnancy multivitamin tablets that contain it.

I haven't taken folic acid, will my baby be OK?

It is unlikely that the lack of folic acid will have affected your baby’s development as the risk is small. But if you’re worried about not having taken folic acid during the early months of your pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife.

Read more about folic acid and other pregnancy supplements here

Read more midwives' answers

Sources

1. Bestwick JP et al. (2014). “Prevention of neural tube defects: a cross sectional uptake of folic acid supplementation in nearly half a million women.” Plos One 2014; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089354

2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2008) Antenatal Care, Clinical Guidelines 62: http://publications.nice.org.uk/antenatal-care-cg62

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