One third of pregnant Australian women are not getting enough folic acid, a new Victorian study shows.
Folic acid is one of the B group of vitamins. It helps create DNA and prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida. About 70 Australian babies are born each year with a neural tube defect - about 2.5 in every 10,000 babies.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advises that women planning to get pregnant should have an additional 400mcg of folic acid daily via supplement or fortified foods. This extra folic acid is recommended for at least one month before and three months after conception.
However, a law passed in 2009 that approved adding folic acid to the wheat flour used to make bread, bagels, rolls and focaccias may mean others are getting too much.
WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University Associate Professor Mark Lawrence says not enough of the monitoring is being done of the effects of adding folic acid to bread flour.
Professor Lawrence says there is a danger some β particularly older women β are getting too much. "A third of women are not getting enough and you are exposing some to too much,β he says.