Only one in three women routinely take folic acid supplements, despite 95% of women being aware of the benefits according to safefood's lastest survey.
The survey was conducted online with 1,608 women, living in Ireland, aged between 18-49.
Further research, done in Ireland, has shown that three out of four women who attend for antenatal care have not taken folic acid supplements at the critical time, which is before they become pregnant.
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said: “It’s encouraging that knowledge around folic acid is high and women know what it is, what it does and who should take it, but most women in the relevant age group are not taking this preventative supplement or not taking it before they become pregnant.
Busy Mum of two and fitness instructor Fiona Shannon is married with two daughters, aged 14 and 11. Her youngest daughter was diagnosed with Spina Bifida at 24 weeks.
With both her pregnancies, Fiona started taking Folic Acid when she was around six weeks pregnant. “Both my pregnancies were planned, but the importance of Folic Acid wasn’t really pushed as much as it is now, or I would have been taking it well before we had conceived.
“As a family, we’ve experienced first-hand how not taking it can impact on someone’s life.
“Taking a folic acid tablet a day is so simple and so easy. It doesn’t mean you’re planning a baby. But it does mean when you have a baby, however far in the future that might be, you’re already helping to protect their health”.
Dr Foley-Nolan said: “For a healthy mum and baby, we simply can’t get enough folic acid from our food alone even with fortified foods – taking a daily folic acid supplement of 400 mcg is the only way to go.”
“Folic acid is widely available, cheap and a year’s supply can cost less than a single takeaway coffee.”