safefood: Reaching the unreachable. Convincing the inconvincible. Persuading all sexually active women, not just those planning a family, to take folic acid daily.

Agencies: McCannBlue and Mindshare

Introduction & Background

In 2015, safefood were tasked with encouraging women across the island of Ireland to take folic acid supplements, in order to help prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) in new-born babies. NTDs are severe abnormalities of the central nervous system that develop in babies during the first weeks of pregnancy. The most common of these is spina bifida (meaning split spine), the effects are illustrated in Figure 1.

Ireland has one of the highest incidence rates of NTDs in Europe, with between 0.8 and 1.5 cases recorded per 1,000 births annually or, to put it another way, somewhere between 49 and 93 babies are affected every year1,2. What's even more distressing is that these rates have sharply increased in recent years. (See Figure 2)