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Increased risk of Spina Bifida and Folic Acid dose

(24 Posts)
inmybelly Thu 20-Mar-14 05:20:49


I'm 8w2d and just discovered my mum has Spina Bifida Occulta which is a very mild form of the condition and doesn't effect her at all.

I've been taking 400 folic acid since finding out I'm pregnant but have read that it might be a good idea to take a larger dose if there's a family history of SB. (Does Occulta actually constitute of family history?)

Anyway, the only way I can figure to increase the dose is to take 2 tablets each day, which would be 800... Could this be too much or become toxic?

I eat a bowl of cereal everyday so that's some extra folic acid, and when I'm not feeling sick I try and eat green vegetables (but that's hardly ever), have the odd bit of marmite also.

Also, I'm worried that it's been left too late to make a difference now anyway!!

My 1st midwife appointment isn't for another 2 weeks and my doctor is impossible to get hold of. I know the EPU are good at answering the phone, do you think they'd mind if I asked them?

lucy101 Thu 20-Mar-14 05:25:16

The advice I was given was to take 5mg which is a lot more. You need to get a prescription from your GP.

inmybelly Thu 20-Mar-14 05:27:11

So that's 5000 right?? Blimey, I've been way off.

8 weeks in... Worried this had been left too late sad

lucy101 Thu 20-Mar-14 05:38:12

I was told this when I was already pregnant but didn't know yet (with number 2 after losing number 1 to severe neural tube defects) so think it may still be worth it. I was also told by another consultant to take it all the way through as there was emerging research that there were other benefits (and it can't do any harm). I am 38 weeks with no.3 and again started it a bit late (at 5 weeks) but endless scans show everything is okay. I would get an emergency appointment with a GP and until then take lots of the over counter stuff!

lucy101 Thu 20-Mar-14 05:39:01

.... and try not to worry!

inmybelly Thu 20-Mar-14 05:45:40

I guess I could take 13 tablets everyday...!? Will phone the doctor as soon as it opens.

lucy101 Thu 20-Mar-14 05:56:07

Also 9 - 13 weeks is the crucial development stage (I also read some interesting research into this period for instance being possibly vulnerable for FAS for instance) which is reassuring.

Whenwillwe3meetagain Thu 20-Mar-14 05:56:21

Dr told me yesterday that Folic acid is one of those that you simply pee out if you take more than your body needs.

inmybelly Thu 20-Mar-14 06:01:19

Ok, thanks for that Lucy. Reassuring that 9 weeks is the crucial time, hopefully that means I've not left it too late. What does FAS stand for?

And thanks whenwillwe3meetagain, good to know it's not possible to overdose the baby.

Writerwannabe83 Thu 20-Mar-14 07:31:27

I'm on medication that can increase the risk of Spina Bifida so was prescribed 5mg tablets a day by my GP and had to take them for 3 months before even trying to conceive. I'm now 39 weeks, baby's spine is absolutely fine but I was advised to continue taking them for the duration of the pregnancy.

Heatherbell1978 Thu 20-Mar-14 07:46:08

I think in the US their standard advised daily dose is 800mcg rather than our 400mcg; I found this out when I was thinking of buying some folic acid on Amazon. I took 800 mcg for a few weeks around the 9-12 wk mark but back to my normal 400 (which is in the pregnacare multivitamin). I think you'd need to take a lot for it to become dangerous.

squizita Thu 20-Mar-14 08:35:44

inmybelly its a B vitamin so you can take a hell of a lot safely. You pee out (bright yellow) what isn't used. The flipside is of course your body cannot store it so keep taking it!
I take a high dose B complex (nurse advised me... so do consult a MW, doc or nurse 1st).

Armadale Thu 20-Mar-14 08:41:59

I have to take 5000mg in pregnancy, and there is no risk of overdose as it is not a fat soluble vitamin, as others have said it just makes your pee more expensive!

The GP does prescribe it to me, but often I just take 13 of the over the counter ones, they are tiny and so you can swallow 13 easily in one go with a little bit of water....The only time I bother with the prescription ones is if I've got morning sickness badly, then one of the gp tablets is easier to get down, but there is no difference in terms of their composition.

Sainsburys do them for £1 for for 90 and they are always on 3 for 2, so you can get 3 weeks supply for £2, which makes it a fair bit cheaper than buying on prescription too.

NearTheWindymill Thu 20-Mar-14 08:49:45

Pregnant women get fee prescriptions.

ProlificPenguin Thu 20-Mar-14 08:57:17

Don't self medicate, if you can't get an appointment then ask one of the midwife team to call you back.

If you get a prescription then it's free

ThatBloodyWoman Thu 20-Mar-14 09:06:06

I have spina bifida occulta.

When I became pregnant with dd1 I quite honestly didn't think I could have children, so I didn't start taking folic acid until I knew I was pregnant (never even knew I should take it in pregnancy as I didn't know anything on the subject).

Everything was fine.

Once I was aware I continued taking folic acid just in case as a daily thing, and did become pregnant again.Everything was fine again.

Get the dr to tell you what to take-don't decide yourself.


ThatBloodyWoman Thu 20-Mar-14 09:10:41

I just used over the counter ones btw.

Hope this puts your mind at a bit more ease.

Obviously do go ahead and get hold of someone and take what you are told to though.

ThatBloodyWoman Thu 20-Mar-14 09:23:34

Actually, thinking back, I used over the counter ones between pregnancies, and prescribed ones during, but I don't remember the dose.But like I say, I used nobe at all till I knew about it!

Armadale Thu 20-Mar-14 11:16:26

This is my 6th pregnancy and I have never had a free prescription yet!

My doc surgery does not give the the form out till the appointment after the 20 week scan, I've asked on several occasions about it, but this is the rule there. The pharmacy won't give you free prescriptions without the form, you can't just self certify

Because of my recurrent miscarriages the stuff I need to take in the first 12 weeks often costs £100 a month, once you've figured in the daily injections, suppositories, tablets, vitamins, sharps bins etc etc

alita7 Thu 20-Mar-14 11:29:19

My dad has what he called closed spinabifida which I think is the occulta type. I didn't know I needed more but will get some extra for 9- 13 weeks. Although to be honest I don't think it will matter too much as when my nan was pregnant they didn't take folic acid at all, and she took thalidomide for a few weeks so that might be why. So it probably isn't genetic, it's probably circumstantial.

BEEwitched Thu 20-Mar-14 11:38:38

I was on 5mg as I have a raised BMI but I had to point that out to the GP, they just wanted me to take the regular pregnacare type meds - apparently, a lot of GPs aren't aware of the new recommendations.

I tried getting 5mg folic acid over the counter, but you can only get it on prescription, so definitely give your GP or midwife a ring. I was told only to take it up to 12 weeks.

caravela Thu 20-Mar-14 13:13:19

I bought my folic acid in Germany, because I was living there when I was ttc. The standard daily dose that the pharmacist gives you there is 800 mg, and I didn't think anything of it until I noticed recently that the NHS standard dose is 400 mg. Their healthcare system there is good, so I can't believe that taking more could be dangerous or they would have a lower limit.

But I agree with other posters: if you are worried, talk to your doctor or midwife, because they will be able to help you with your personal situation.

wonkylegs Thu 20-Mar-14 13:18:56

Talk to your dr & they can give you a proper prescription.
I take 5mg daily as one of the meds I take when not TTC is a folate depleter & requires 5mg to compensate, and the drs think it's worth going for a safer than sorry approach even when I'm no longer on that med as we are TTC.

inmybelly Fri 21-Mar-14 06:44:51

Thank you for all the responses. The GP said he thought the risk would be very remote, but better to be safe than sorry and I now have a prescription for 5mg which he said to take till 12 weeks.

I just wish I acted sooner. All that spinal cord development over the last 6 weeks and just a tiny amount folic acid. My diet had been appalling because of nausea too.

Fingers crossed I've not done any damage

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