Superdrug recalls orange-flavoured pregnancy vitamins because they ‘don’t contain enough folic acid to prevent spinal defects’
- The high street chain decided to recall its own products and offer refunds
- It said the levels of folic acid in the vitamins don’t meet NHS guidelines
- They contain the legal minimum – only half as much as the NHS recommends
- Pregnant women should take 400mcg of folic acid per day to avoid spina bifida
Superdrug has recalled one of its own-brand pregnancy vitamins because it doesn’t contain enough of one of the most vital nutrients.
The gummy orange-flavoured pregnancy vitamins only have half as much folic acid as the NHS recommends for expectant mothers.
Superdrug had been selling the vitamins for five months and, despite reassuring women they’re safe, it said they should be returned for a refund.
A lack of folic acid during pregnancy increases the baby’s risk of developing spinal problems such as spina bifida, which can cause lifelong disability.
Superdrug’s own-brand Gummies Pregnancy Vitamins Orange Flavour (pictured) are being recalled by the store because they don’t meet NHS guidance on how much folic acid pregnant women should take
In a recall notice on its website, Superdrug said: ‘Customers are advised to stop using this product and to return it to any Superdrug store where they will receive a full refund. No other Superdrug Pregnancy Care vitamins are affected.’
Its reason for the recall is that the one-a-day vitamins contain 200mcg of folic acid whereas the NHS recommends pregnant women take 400mcg a day.
The supplement is in line with EU and UK regulations, which require a minimum of 200mcg.
WHAT ARE NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS?
Neural tube defects are deformities of a person’s brain, spine or spinal cord which occur in the very early stages of pregnancy.
They happen when the foetus does not develop properly, usually during the first four weeks after conception.
The most common forms of NTD are conditions called anencephaly, spina bifida and encephalocele.
Anencephaly is when a foetus does not develop its entire brain or skull – almost all babies which are born with it die shortly after.
Spina bifida, a deformity of the spine, is less often fatal and many children survive well into adulthood, but it can cause severe disability.
Encephalocele happens when part of a baby’s brain and membranes protrude out of the head through a hole in the skull. This may be treated with surgery but will likely cause long-term brain problems.
Women are advised to take 400 micograms of folic acid per day during and before pregnancy until at least the 12th week after conception, because it has been proven to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
But Superdrug added it ‘recognises that NHS guidance goes further than the legal requirement’.
The health service says mothers-to-be should take a 400mcg folic acid supplement every day while trying to conceive and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Folic acid has been found to significantly reduce the chance of a baby developing a neural tube defects, of which the most well-known is spina bifida.
This prevents the spinal column from developing properly and can cause potentially disabling nerve damage.
About 300,000 babies are born worldwide each year with neural tube defects, and some 700 are born annually in the UK with severe spina bifida, figures show.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP, told The Sun: ‘Taking a lower dose than the recommended 400 micrograms a day could put your baby at higher risk of having spinal cord problems.’
Folic acid, a type of B vitamin, can be made by the body if people eat foods which are rich in folate.
Folate-rich foods include vegetables – particularly dark green leafy ones, fruit, nuts, beans, eggs, meat, poultry, grains, dairy and seafood.
The Government is in the process of making rules which would see folic acid added to flour.
This would mean it is present in all doughy foods such as bread, cake and pizza, and people would be less likely to have low amounts of it in their bodies.
But even if women eat healthily they may struggle to get enough folic acid while they’re pregnant, which is why supplements are important.
Some women may have take higher doses if they have certain illnesses, but most mothers can stop the supplements after three months, by which time the baby’s spine has already formed.
A Superdrug spokesperson added: ‘We strive to offer our customers the highest possible quality own brand products and are always pushing ourselves to continuously improve both our quality and our ways of working.
‘As a result of this incident we will immediately be reviewing our procedures and will make any necessary changes.’