Is 12 weeks too late to take folic acid?

Folic acid (vitamin B9) is very important for a baby’s health and development. You don’t need to take folic acid after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Why is folic acid important?

Folic acid is a vitamin (B9), found in certain foods, such as broccoli and spinage. It can also be taken as tablets (supplements). Folic acid protects your future baby against neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

Ideally, you should take folic acid supplements for 2 months before you get pregnant and until you are 12 weeks along. This is when your baby’s spine is developing.

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

By 12 weeks, the baby's neural tube should have closed so you don’t need to take folic acid. But it isn’t harmful to take it all the way through your pregnancy. So, you can carry on if you are taking pregnancy multivitamin tablets that contain it.

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

Try not to worry. It is unlikely that the lack of folic acid will have affected your baby’s development as the risk is small. But talk to your midwife or doctor if you’re worried.

Find out more about taking folic acid before pregnancy and during a pregnancy.

Read more midwives' answers

Sources

NHS Choices Why do I need folic acid in pregnancy? https://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/913.aspx?categoryid=54 (Page last reviewed: 16/03/2016 Next review due: 16/03/2018)

Sue Macdonald, Gail Johnson, Mayes’ Midwifery. Edinburgh: Baillir̈e Tindall Elsevier, 2017), p 312.

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Last reviewed on December 5th, 2018. Next review date December 5th, 2021.

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