Expert Q&A: Is it too late to start taking folate ?

Expert Q&A: Is it too late to start taking folate ?

Dr Ginni Mansberg answers your pregnancy questions.


My pregnancy was unplanned and as a result I haven’t taken folate. I’m now four months pregnant and my sister says it’s too late to take it. Is this true? Can I make up for lost time or have I put my unborn baby at a severe disadvantage by not already taking it?
Tina, Pyrmont NSW

Expert Answer

As a new mum you want to give your baby the best of everything and I can only imagine your distress at believing you have let your baby down. Your baby’s neural tube, which is his primitive brain and spine, has closed by four months, so folic acid will not help now. In fact, taking folic acid late in pregnancy has been linked to asthma in babies.

But folic acid is an essential nutrient in vegies, especially the green stuff. Chances are, if you have a good diet, your baby will have had plenty of folate express-delivered to his spine and brain. Remember neural tube defects are still relatively uncommon, so the chances are your baby will be fine.

In two weeks you’ll have what we call the morphology scan. Be sure to tell them you didn’t take folic acid and get them to give the bub’s spine and brain a thorough looking over with the ultrasound and this will put your mind 
at ease once you get an all-clear.

Just by the way, my second baby, David, was ‘discovered’ at 15 weeks gestation (like you). By that stage not only had I not taken any folic acid, but I’d had a nasty case of chicken pox, taken medication and found myself at the wrong end of a bottle of red! Like you, I was so worried. But David is an incredible, healthy 16-year-old now and I’m so glad I gave him a chance.


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