Pregnancy news, 18/10/2018 [updated 14/06/2019]
In 2018, health ministers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland backed the idea of adding folic acid to bread flour after evidence showed that it could protect babies from spina bifida, or other problems with their spine or neural tube.
Women are currently advised to take a daily 400mcg folic acid supplement at least two months before they start trying for a baby and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, unless their BMI is over 30. In this case, the dosage recommended is often higher. However, many women still don’t know about the importance of the supplement and are unclear about when they need to take it or for how long, with only 14% of women in a recent pre-conception survey by Tommy’s being aware they needed to start taking it before stopping contraception.
"Through all our work improving safety in pregnancy it has always been very clear that simply recommending to women that folic acid is taken is not enough. The message is not getting to women in time, or in many cases at all. Adding it to flour will save the lives of babies as well as the devastation of the 2 parents a week who are currently getting the news that their baby is affected by a neural tube defect that requires lifelong intensive medical care."Jane Brewin, Chief Executive of Tommy’s
Another issue is that the crucial stage of neural tube development happens in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when some women may not even be aware that they’re pregnant.
The UK currently has one of the highest rates of neural tube defects in Europe, with around 2 babies born each week in a serious condition. And a study also showed that an additional 2 pregnancies are terminated each day in the UK because of neural tube defects.
The Government has now launched its consultation on whether folate should be added to flour in a bid to cut the number of babies born with avoidable, and in many cases life-threatening, problems.
Why aren’t we doing it already?
Previous UK governments resisted calls to fortify foods with folate over concerns that too much folic acid could be harmful to the public. However, nutritionists and medical experts now believe this is untrue following a re-examination of old data.
More than 60 countries now fortify foods with folic acid, including Australia where neural tube defects fell 14% after it was introduced.
Fortification is supported by:
- The Royal College of Midwives
- Public Health England
- the British Pregnancy Advisory Service
- Many nutritionists and clinical experts.
Women should continue to take the recommended amount of folic acid.
Find out more about why folic acid is important for a baby’s development.
There are many apps, tools and kits on the market to help women predict when they ovulate. Here is an overview of the most popular methods used by these tools to predict ovulation.
Getting to know your menstrual cycle can help you understand when you’re most likely to get pregnant during every month.
Having regular, unprotected sex will give you the best chance of getting pregnant but knowing when you are most fertile also helps.
‘Due’anuary is a month when lots of people seem to find out they are pregnant, so much so that 17th January has been labelled ‘Discovery Day’! Read more about why this is, and what the most common months are for giving birth.
PTSD is being talked about a lot in the media today. It’s important to recognise that PTSD can affect anyone. If you’ve been through a traumatic birth or if you have experienced baby loss in a previous pregnancy through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, you may be more likely to experience PTSD.
Tommy's launches its PregnancyHub today, a go-to, online hub of pregnancy information and digital tools for women and their families, providing support before, during and after pregnancy.
A new study has revealed the importance of (where possible) ensuring that the birth of extremely premature babies happens in a tertiary care setting. This is to avoid transferring babies shortly after birth.
By Lucy Lillywhite (not verified) on 19 Oct 2018 - 23:41
Hi, You have stated an incorrect recommended dosage - it should be 400mcg not mg. Would have been great to mention about higher dose folic acid which is quite commonly advised as per recommendations for BMI’s over 30!
By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Oct 2018 - 13:37
Thank you for advising about this typing error. It has now been corrected.