Report by the Food Safety Advisory Board
The Value of Folic Acid in the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects
Introduction to the ReportNeural tube defects are severe congenital malformations of the central nervous system which occur more frequently in Ireland than in most other countries with an estimated current prevalence of 1.5 per 1,000 births. it was scientifically proven in 1991 that the B vitamin, folic acid, Taken before conception and during the early months of pregnancy (i.e. periconceptionally0 could greatly reduce a woman's risk of having an affected pregnancy. During the next two years, departments of health in many countries issued recommendations on how women could reduce their risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect by taking extra folic acid or folate. In 1993 the Irish Department of health issued a recommendation that women likely to become pregnant should take an extra 400 microgrammes (ug) of folic acid prior to conception and during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. research studies confirmed anecdotal reports that relatively few Irish women were taking folic acid periconceptionally. Amid growing concerns about apparent low uptake of this effectively intervention, the food Safety Advisory board established a Sub-Committee on Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defects with the following terms of reference:
"To examine and prepare a report on issues relating to increasing the intake of folic acid periconceptionally to prevent neural tube defects in Ireland, and to make recommendations".
The Sub-Committee commenced its work in October, 1996 and held ten meeting.
Description and prevalence of neural tube defects
Efficacy of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects
Recommendations in Ireland and other countries on the use of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects
Are women taking folic acid to prevent neural tube defects?
Need for more information on knowledge and use of periconceptional folic acid in Irish women
The strategies to prevent neural tube defects by folic acid or folate
Safety considerations in taking folic acid
This is the Introduction of the Report however the Full Report is available from:
Food Safety Authority of Ireland
Lower Abbey Street
Tel: 01-817 1300
Fax: 01-817 1301