The browser you are using is too old for our website. Please visit from Chrome and you will be able to browse normally.


      Folic Acid in pregnancy and conception

      Green leaves

      Folic Acid in pregnancy and conception

      Your pregnancy superhero

      Facts about folic acid

      Folic acid is known to help reduce the risks of neural tube defects, and aid the production of red blood cells. Discover more about this pregnancy superhero and why you should start taking it prior to conception.

      Does folic acid help you get pregnant?

      Many mums wonder whether folic acid will help them get pregnant. While folic acid will not help you to conceive, it is widely accepted that folic acid is vital for supporting healthy neural tube development in the very early stages of pregnancy. For this reason, it's considered an essential supplement for every woman’s conception and pregnancy routine.

      Why folic acid is so important in the early days

      Folic acid is necessary during pregnancy for the normal folding and closure of the baby’s neural tube to form the brain and spinal cord. This occurs between day 21 – 28 after conception – when most women still don’t even know they are pregnant. Failure of the neural tube to close results in Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) of which Spina Bifida is the most common. Ireland has one of the highest rates of the condition in Europe (1.17 in 1000 live births).


      What is spina bifida?

      Spina bifida occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not develop properly, leaving a gap in the spine. As the spinal cord connects the entire body to the brain, it can lead to a wide range of symptoms.

      The exact causes of spina bifida are not fully understood, but a low intake of folic acid before becoming pregnant, family history, some types of medication, diabetes, and obesity are thought to contribute.

      Taking the right amount of folic acid at the right time

      Irish guidelines state that a folic acid supplement (400µg) should be taken daily for the 4 weeks before pregnancy as well as for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. But did you know that 50% of pregnancies in Ireland are unplanned? So by the time a lot of women do realise they are pregnant they have already passed the time period for the closure of the neural tube. That’s why it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to taking a daily folic acid supplement if you’re female, of childbearing age, and sexually active, even if you are not planning to become pregnant.

      400mcg of folic acid per day is recommended, before conception and for the first trimester.

      Mums who might need an extra boost

      In some cases your Healthcare professional might advise you to take a higher dose of folic acid. You should speak to your healthcare professional if any of the below applies to you:  

      • You have had a previously affected pregnancy
      • You or a family member have a spinal cord defect
      • You're taking medication for epilepsy
      • You're obese with a BMI over 30
      • You have coeliac disease, diabetes, sickle cell anaemia, or thalassaemia

      Your baby's future health begins here

      Your baby's future health begins here

      At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; that
      each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your
      baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one
      round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

      Join Aptaclub

      Related articles

      Questions about feeding and nutrition?

      Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.

      Your privacy is important to us and therefore we would like to explain how we use cookies on this website. With your consent, we will use cookies to measure and analyse how our website is used (analytical cookies), to tailor it to your interests (personalisation cookies), and to show you relevant advertising and information (targeting cookies) we think you will like. For more information please read the cookie statement.

      Privacy Settings

      You can choose your preferences anytime for cookies and tracking. For more information please read our cookie policy.

      • Strictly necessary

        They are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services (setting your privacy preferences, logging in, filling in forms, etc.). You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

      • Analytical cookies

        They allow us to count visits and traffic sources, to measure and improve the performance of our site. They show us which pages are the most and least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

      • Personalisation cookies

        They enable website’s enhanced functionality and personalization. They may be set by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of these services may not function properly.

      • Targeting cookies

        They may be set through our site by our advertising partners, to build a profile of your interests and to show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.