Irish women three times as likely to check their smartphone in the morning as take a folic acid tablet

 New campaign reminds women to take Folic Acid every morning

 Young Irish women are three times as likely to check their smartphone in the morning as they are to take a folic acid tablet according to new research from safefood. This is part of its campaign reminding women to include folic acid as part of their morning routine. More than 80% of women who responded to the survey check their phone / social media as part of their morning routine yet only 25% of women take a folic acid tablet.

Safefood supported by the HSE is launching a new public awareness campaign encouraging all women who could conceive a baby to take a daily folic acid supplement (400 micrograms) regardless of whether or not they plan to become pregnant. The campaign is emphasising to women that even if they are taking contraception, it is not 100% effective and surprise babies can happen. In that case, it’s better to be protected in so far as possible against neural tube defects (including spina bifida).

Margaret O’Neill the HSE’s national dietetic advisor is encouraging female HSE staff who could conceive to develop a new habit of taking a folic acid supplement every day.

According to Margaret, “Whether or not you are planning a pregnancy and whether or not you are using contraception, if you are of an age where you can conceive a baby and are sexually active then surprises do happen! Taking a daily dose of 400 micrograms of folic acid prior to conceiving a baby could reduce your risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect by 70%. Most women in Ireland only start taking folic acid after they discover they are pregnant and this new campaign wishes to reverse that trend.”

The focus of this year’s campaign is targeted at women  aged between 18 and 30 who are not currently planning a pregnancy and are taking contraception as a prevention. However, we know that no form of contraception is 100% effective against pregnancy.

The campaign is supported by a dedicated information hub and you can Meet Stella on

Under professional resources you will find a helpful FAQ for staff those wishing to find out more for yourselves or to help spread the word to your patients and clients. You can download and view the materials by

Spina bifida is a neural tube defect which affects about one in every 1,000 children born every year in Ireland and we have one of the highest incidences of spina bifida births in the world.  Spina bifida is an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Problems associated with spina bifida include poor ability to walk, problems with bladder or bowel control, hydrocephalus and a tethered spinal cord.

A leaflet and poster will be available to order by healthcare professionals on in due course and we will let you know when they are available.