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Experts push for folic acid use

A rise in spina bifida cases in Scotland has seen women of child-bearing age being advised to take extra folic acid - even if they are not planning a family.

This year, 15 babies in the country have been born with the condition - around twice the normal number, the Scottish Spina Bifida Association (SSBA) said.

Although the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy are already known, the charity has pushed for women who are not expecting a child to also take the supplement.

Spina Bifida, in which vertebrae in the backbone form incorrectly, can lead to paralysis from the waist down and other damage to the nervous system.

SSBA chairman Dr Margo Whiteford said: "This year we've had as many contacts from families in the first half of the year as we'd expect to see for the full year.

"Ladies do know about folic acid preventing spina bifida but they wait until they've missed a period before they start taking it.

"The spinal cord develops within the first four weeks of pregnancy so by that stage it's too late - if the baby's going to have spina bifida it will already have developed it."

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Scottish Spina Bifida Association