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Superdrug has urgently recalled a range of pregnancy vitamins and is urging expectant mothers to stop taking them.
The orange flavour Gummies Pregnancy Vitamins containing folic acid are claimed to be for ‘nutritional support throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding’.
But the chewy sweet-like tablets contain just half the NHS recommended daily dose of folic acid.
Folic acid is vital in early pregnancy to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, but can actually increase the chance of these serious defects if taken in a too low dose, according to Dr Sarah Jarvis.
The recalled supplement contains 200mcg of folic acid, which is in line with EU and UK regulations, but the NHS recommends expectant mums take 400mcg folic acid supplements daily, before they become pregnant – and for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
In a statement, Superdrug said: ‘We recognise that NHS guidance goes further than the legal requirement.’
The high street pharmacy advised customers to stop taking the product and to return it in store to receive a full refund.
They added: ‘No other Superdrug pregnancy care vitamins are affected.
‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers.’
Dr Jarvis, GP and clinical director at patient.info, explained the impacts that taking a low dose of folic acid can have on a baby, she said: ‘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 is a vitamin which is found naturally in many foods.
Speaking to The Sun, she added: ‘However, if you don’t have enough of it when you become pregnant, you’re at much higher risk of your baby having a problem with their spine, such as spina bifida.
‘That’s why in the UK it is recommended that all women take a supplement of 400 micrograms a day from before they get pregnant until they are three months pregnant (the spine is formed by then).
‘In certain situations – for instance, if you have epilepsy or some other medical conditions like Coeliac disease, if you’ve had a previous baby with a spinal cord problem or if you, your partner or other people in the family have spinal cord defects – it’s recommended that you take a much higher dose of 5 milligrams a day.’