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High Level Facts
Up to 50% of pregnancies in the UK are unplanned. All women who might become pregnant should take a daily tablet containing 400mcg of folic acid. Birth defects of the brain and spine (Neural Tube Defects) develop in the first 28 days of pregnancy – before many women even know that they are pregnant. Folic acid is also known as vitamin B9.
Women need to start taking folic acid 3 months before conception and continue for the first 3 months of pregnancy. Some women are at a higher risk of having a baby with a Neural Tube Defect and will need to take a higher 5mg dose of folic acid. Up to 72% of Neural Tube Defects could be prevented if all women took folic acid at the correct time and dose. Each year in the UK 900 pregnancies are affected by NTDs.