The Scottish Mail on Sunday

‘Scare­mon­gers!’ Spina bi­fida char­ity hits out at mid­wives’ tongue-tie warn­ings to preg­nant mums tak­ing folic acid

- By Stephen Adams

MID­WIVES have been ac­cused of ‘scare­mon­ger­ing’ for telling women that tak­ing folic acid later in preg­nancy raises the risk of tongue-tie in new­borns.

There is no ev­i­dence that folic acid in­creases the like­li­hood of the con­di­tion, which makes breast­feed­ing dif­fi­cult as the baby’s tongue is at­tached to the base of the mouth al­most to its tip.

But it is known that if the mother is de­fi­cient in folic acid, a type of B vi­ta­min, the risk of se­ri­ous de­fects such as spina bi­fida is greatly in­creased. Nonethe­less, mid­wives have taken it upon them­selves to ig­nore of­fi­cial ad­vice and ‘warn’ moth­ers-to-be about tak­ing folic acid sup­ple­ments af­ter the first trimester.

Nurse Gill Yaz, of the spina bi­fida char­ity Shine, said she feared the num­ber of women tak­ing folic acid could drop if women got the false mes­sage it was harm­ful, adding: ‘Mid­wives should not be scare­mon­ger­ing and spread­ing ru­mours. It is so un­help­ful.’

The ru­mour – ap­par­ently started by ‘Earth mother’ blog­gers – has be­come a hot topic on par­ent­ing fo­rums. But Pro­fes­sor Sir Ni­cholas Wald, from the Wolf­son In­sti­tute of Pre­ven­tive Medicine in Lon­don, said: ‘There is no sci­en­tific ba­sis for stat­ing that tak­ing folic acid sup­ple­ments from around 12 weeks causes tongue-tie.’

Cam­paign­ers fear the mis­in­for­ma­tion could have se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

Only a third of women take folic acid while try­ing to get preg­nant, de­spite of­fi­cial NHS ad­vice stat­ing women should take 400 mi­cro­grams of it daily while try­ing to con­ceive, un­til 12 weeks preg­nant.

The poor up­take re­sults in thou­sands of ba­bies be­ing born ev­ery year with ‘neu­ral tube de­fects’ such as spina bi­fida, where the spine de­vel­ops in­cor­rectly, caus­ing dam­age to the ner­vous sys­tem. Many now con­tinue to take folic acid af­ter 12 weeks, as part of a preg­nancy mul­tivi­ta­min like Preg­nacare. The NHS does not warn against this.

Jour­nal­ist Kate Mansey, 36, from Lon­don, whose sec­ond child is due in Au­gust, said: ‘At 14 weeks, my mid­wife asked if I’d stopped tak­ing folic acid as there was “some sug­ges­tion” it was linked to a rise in tongue-tie in new­borns.

‘I was sur­prised a health pro­fes­sional would ad­vise this.’

The Royal Col­lege of Mid­wives said those telling pa­tients there was a link were act­ing out­side of­fi­cial ad­vice.

 ??  ?? ru­mours: There is no ev­i­dence tongue-tie, above, is linked to folic acid
ru­mours: There is no ev­i­dence tongue-tie, above, is linked to folic acid

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