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Folic acid daily 'important' for sexually active ladies

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 28/07/2015

An eminent obstetrician is urging all sexually active Northern Ireland women to take folic acid.

Professor Jim Dornan, chair of health and life sciences at Ulster University, is backing a Safefood campaign stressing the importance of women taking folic acid daily to help prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) among newborns.

Research has revealed that around half of pregnancies here are unplanned and fewer than one in five women have taken folic acid before they become pregnant, so the best approach is for all sexually active women to build this into their daily routine.

Ahead of the campaign launch today, Prof Dornan, also a founding member of the Tiny Life premature baby charity, told the Belfast Telegraph the campaign had been developed to encourage women to take folic acid supplements to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine including spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Currently Northern Ireland has one of the highest incidences of these conditions.

Prof Dornan said: "All women who could be in a position of getting pregnant should be taking folic acid as a normal diet just doesn't do it.

"If a woman takes extra folic acid from pre-conception onwards she can reduce the incidences of spina bifida by two-thirds."

Prof Dornan equated a delay with "putting factor 30 on as the sun is setting".

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