While more than 95% of women are now aware of the benefits of taking folic acid, only 1 in 3 actually routinely take it, the latest survey for safefood’s folic acid campaign have revealed.

The survey coincides with the latest phase of the campaign ‘Babies Know the Facts About Folic’ which aims to encourage women to take folic acid supplements and help address Ireland’s high incidence rate of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) like Spina Bifida among newborn babies.

Research has also 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 we now need women to act on this knowledge.

“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. At 30% to 36% this is still far too low.”

“Folic acid is widely available, cheap and a year’s supply can cost less than a single takeaway coffee.”

“While it is encouraging that we’ve seen a 10% increase in folic acid supplement intake among women who are not planning a pregnancy, this is from a very low starting point and there’s still a great deal of room to improve.”