§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase awareness of the importance of folic acid taken before conception and then in early pregnancy in the prevention of neural tube defects; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Sackville
The Department has commissioned the Health Education Authority to conduct a large scale publicity campaign to increase awareness of the opportunity to prevent babies having spina bifida and other similar birth defects by women increasing their consumption of folates and folic acid prior to conception and in early pregnancy. We have set aside £2.3 million in England over the next three years for this purpose. The campaign will start in the autumn, focusing first on increasing professional awareness of the issues, and then broaden out early next year to reach women and older school girls. In particular, it will initially target women who are planning to become pregnant.