Long-term mothers have long advised to avoid special foods during pregnancy. In addition, it is also widely known that taking certain supplements can promote good health and well-being for both mother and her unborn child.
But while everyone has good intentions, many simply forget to use the recommended vitamins that could be very useful for their adult child.
The most commonly known and promoted supplement is folic acid, which is believed to help reduce the risk of certain inherited defects. But currently only one in four women is using it before pregnancy, health officials in the UK have put forward a proposal to accelerate the use of flour with folic acid to help reduce fetal abnormalities.
British Public Health Minister Steve Brine said that it will increase the consumption of folate in pregnant women and, in turn, reduce the risk of infantile spinal bifida and other inherited defects. And Prof Dame chief medical officer Sally Davies said that evidence suggests that "folic acid enhancement is a practical way to reduce folate deficiency in pregnant women and reduce inherent defects."
"It is my pleasure to see that the government is taking action on this issue and I hope that the broader view of the scientific community will be important for these important consultations that could help and improve the lives of many women and children in this country," she said. "However, as with any kind of interference, we have to make sure it is also safe, and this means considering the wider impact on other people who eat flour."
Alison Raath, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the United Kingdom, says that the college supports calls for folic acid to be enhanced. "The evidence is clear that strengthening will eliminate about half of [1,000 diagnoses of] nervous tube defects, "she says." Folic acid strengthening is a simple, safe and evidence-based measure that will reach women who do not smoke enough folic acid, as well as those who may not plan for pregnancy. "
A health spokesman said they were "aware of the UK media reports, but there are currently no policies on strengthening folic acid".
So, if pregnant women in this country do not have strong flour, Dr. Cliodhna Foley Nolan of Safefood Ireland says that all women who are likely to become pregnant should use the daily routine of folinic acid, whether they are planning to become pregnant or not. Safefoda's "Infants Knowledge of Foil" campaign reminds women that using folic acid daily is the best way to reduce the risk of a baby's nerve impregnation, such as spin bifida, "she says.
"For a healthy mother and baby, the only way to get enough folic acid is to use it every day as a 400 micrograms dietary supplement, and therefore the only way to go is to use a daily supplement. There has been a recent debate about food but it's still small, but even with enriched foods, the daily use of the supplement provides the best protection for the spinal cord and brain of the nappy child. "
Professor Michael Turner, a UCD obstetrician and gynecologist at Coombe Women's and Infant Hospital, says women need to start folic acid before suffering, rather than wait for them to plan for pregnancy or until they get pregnant.
"Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid supplement daily can potentially eliminate two-thirds of the nerve tubes deficiency every year – on average, it's about 50 times less children," he says.
And Dr Rhona Mahony, a former Captain of the National Pregnancy Hospital on Holles Street, agrees:
"We know that women are aware of the benefits of using folic acid, but up to 50 percent of all unwanted pregnancies are so important that all women who may become pregnant start taking it on a daily basis, even if the baby is the last thing in their mind," she recommends. "The child's nervous tube develops during the first weeks of pregnancy, when many women may not know that they are pregnant, and therefore they need to make folic acid part of their daily routine."
In the recent Safefood online survey, the most common barriers women started to use folic acid were low (42%); advice on folic acid (40%); the belief that contraceptives were 100 percent effective (37 percent) and forgot to use folic acid (30 percent).
A couple of cents
But Foley Nolan says that folic acid is widely available, he does not need a recipe and pays no more than a couple of cents a day.
"Having it every day, women take control of their health," she says. "Therefore, this does not mean that you are planning a baby, but this means that if you have a baby, although unplanned or in the future, you can already help protect your health."
And midwife Tracy Donegan says while folic acid is essential, natural folate is the best option.
"Most experts recommend taking 600 micrograms of folate every day to help prevent serious brain and spinal cord defects," says gentlebirth.ie Founder "Folic Acid eliminates these funds, but it has no other natural folate, which is inherent in health.
"Some folate is already found in food, but it can be difficult to get the recommended amount just from your diet. For this reason, every woman, and especially anyone who is planning a pregnancy, should consider adding a daily supplement of vitamins containing folate instead of folic acid."