Periconceptional folic acid (FA) reduces neural tube defect (NTD) risk, but seems to have a varying effect per NTD subtype. We aimed to study the effect of FA supplementation on NTD subtype distribution using data from EUROCAT Northern Netherlands. We included all birth types with non-syndromal NTDs born in 1997-2012. By Fisher's exact test we analyzed possible differences in NTD subtype distribution between a correct FA supplementation group and incorrect FA supplementation group. We found proportionally fewer cervical/thoracic spina bifida cases and more lumbar/sacral spina bifida cases in the correct FA supplementation group, irrespective of the presence of the main NTD risk factors. The effect on NTD subtype distribution was only seen when FA supplementation was started before conception. We conclude that FA not only prevents the occurrence of a significant proportion of NTDs, but might also decrease the severity of NTDs, as long as supplementation is started before conception. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.