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folic acid and prophylaxis against neural tube defects

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Folic acid supplements at the time of conception helps to prevent neural tube defects. The dose of folic acid recommended for women hoping to conceive is:

  • folic acid 5mg daily
    • to prevent recurrence

    • also dose recommended for women who are:
      • receiving anti-epileptic medication (1) or

      • who have diabetes (2) or

      • who have sickle cell disease (3) or

      • women with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater *(4)

  • folic acid 400 mcg daily to prevent first occurence

* women with a BMI 30 kg/m2 or greater wishing to become pregnant should be advised to take 5 mg folic acid supplementation daily, starting at least 1 month before conception and continuing during the first trimester of pregnancy

Folic acid should be commenced prior to conception and continued for the first trimester.

Notes:

  • pregnant women (and those intending to become pregnant) should be informed that dietary supplementation with folic acid, before conception and up to 12 weeks-gestation, reduces the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects (anencephaly, spina bifida). The recommended dose is 400 micrograms per day (1).

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