§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how often the national health service and Health Education Authority monitor(a) the intake and (b) the knowledge of the need to take in folic acid before and during pregnancy.
§ Mr. Sackville
National average intakes of folic acid have been monitored routinely by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as part of the national food survey since the late 1970s. In addition the 1986–87 Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British Adults provided detailed estimates of folic acid intakes by women based on records of actual food consumption. Copies of these surveys are available in the Library. Trends in folic intake for women are expected to be measured again in 1998 as part of the next national diet and nutrition survey covering adults.
The Health Education Authority, which has incor-porated advice on folic acid and neural tube defects in its public and professional educational materials covering nutrition and pregnancy, regularly monitors the effectiveness of its publications.